Medical Specialty >> Gastroenterology

Doctors Lounge - Gastroenterology Answers

Back to Gastroenterology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/15/2017.

Forum Name: Gastroenterology Topics

Question: Chronic Nausea maybe caused by ear?

 valleymist - Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:44 pm

I'm 21 years old and I can remember having problems with nausea since I was 10. It started with a very fast spinning midway ride. I remember having to lay on the grass somewhere for awhile to recover and I was sick for a whole week after that. But the nausea would only occur when I woke up and go away by the end of the morning. Throughout the years I still have this problem but now especially at night instead of the morning. Sometimes I wake up from it with a gag reflex because I feel like I might throw up. I always drink some water and attempt to sleep but it usually happens a few more times.

I've also had problems with acid reflux which I managed to get under control and I no longer take any prescription drugs for it, just the occasional Zantac. My doctor still thinks that high acidity in my stomach is causing the nausea but antacids don't usually work. That is the first thing I try when I feel sick to my stomach. When I'm having a really bad night I take Gravol but I mostly take natural ginger root capsules and drink peppermint/ginger tea right before bed. I'm just wondering if that ride I went on when I was 10 years old could have affected the balance organ in my ear? It seems to occur when I'm in a laying down position. I don't feel like anything is moving but if I deliberately stare at the ceiling it does appear to be moving in a slow circular motion. I also feel a little nausea at movie theatres - something about the big screen I guess. I've never had any ear infections before. Also at times when I'm in a car, or sitting somewhere I feel unstable in my chair, like the chair fell through the floor an inch then nothing. I've been to an eye, ear and nose specialist and he did a few tests but didn't notice anything unusual. He just suggested an MRI.

Thanks for your time and possible ideas.
 Dr.M.Aroon kamath - Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:23 am

User avatar Hi,
What you are describing seems to be recurrent episodes of nausea which was random in nature initially, but now mostly nocturnal. You also indicate an acid reflux problem.

What is notably missing in your account is any mention of tinnitus or a 'typical' vertigo. Thus, to attribute this symptom to the inner ear may be difficult (but not impossible).

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is one condition which needs special mention.This is more common with advancing age. Mostly idiopathic. Nocturnal vertigo and nausea are known to occur due to changes in body position such as, turning in the bed. Can occur sometimes following head trauma, ear trauma, inner ear surgery and other conditions.Believed to be due to abnormal collection of "otoconia"- debris which migrate into the semicircular canals.

Acid reflux is certainly capable of causing nocturnal nausea as well as the 'gagging' that you are referring to.

Apart from this, there are certain less common conditions also merit consideration.

- Certain migraine variants [nocturnal migraine- migraine aura without headache
(acephalgic migraine)],&
- Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and complex partial seizures (CPS) occurring exclusively or predominantly nocturnally (can present as nausea or vomiting, without obvious 'fits').

I am not aware if you have already consulted a gastroenterologist for your reflux symptoms, which need to be investigated first. As your doctor had suggested, you may need a CT or MRI of the brain. Your doctor is certainly in a better position to guide you.
Best wishes!

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us