Around 90% of migraine sufferers experience nausea as part of their attacks and 70% experience vomiting, and while it’s not certain exactly why this is, one reason for the nausea and sickness both during and before attacks may be gastric stasis.
Gastric stasis is where the stomach empties more slowly than it ought to (stasis coming from medical Latin and Greek means “stoppage” or “a standing still”). This slowing down of the digestion can be a problem for migraine sufferers not only in bringing feelings of nausea, but also by slowing the body’s uptake of oral medications. It’s for this reason that the recommendation that migraine medications be taken as soon as you feel an attack coming on is particularly important – once an attack is fully underway it may be too late to properly benefit from oral medications.
Migraine sufferers often suffer from gastric stasis, and it’s all down to a disruption in brain signals – as too is the occurrence of migraine auras. Normally the brain sends signals to the stomach and intestines telling the muscles to move, but doctors believe that migraines disrupt these signals.
Gastric stasis is not usually diagnosed via formal tests, but rather by reporting of symptoms to a medical professional – although formal tests such as a CT scan or an endoscopy may be performed to rule out any other causes.
Should you be diagnosed with gastric stasis, or suspect that it may be the cause of your migraine nausea, there are some things you can do to help relieve the nausea.
Eating four to five smaller meals a day rather than three bigger ones, and these meals consisting of softer foods that are easier to digest can help with the effects of gastric stasis. Cutting back on foods which are high in fat, foods which are too high in fibre, and avoiding fizzy drinks can help as well. As for medications to relieve the effects, your doctor may choose to prescribe you anti-nausea medication and drugs which can help the stomach to empty more quickly.