Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"I am having nausea/dry heaving during workouts. What is wrong with me?"

ZocdocAnswersI am having nausea/dry heaving during workouts. What is wrong with me?


I'm a rower and have started indoor ergometer training for the winter. I never seem to have this problem when rowing out on the water, but only indoors on the ergometer. When we test very high-intensity distances with a few minutes left in the test, I start dry-heaving uncontrollably. I don't vomit, I just dry heave. And I keep rowing (cannot stop!) This happens somewhat often and I'm quite keen to figure out what's wrong. I would hate to actually vomit one day. Is it dehydration or pre-workout nutrition? Or perhaps related to my lactate threshold? Any advice is appreciated to avoid the dry heaves!


Thanks for the question. The sensation of the need to vomit, and the associated action of retching, can be caused by a number of different factors in which the body attempts to right some perceived wrong. Therefore it is important for you to discuss your question with your doctor.

See a doctor who can help

Find Gastroenterologists near you

The stomach is one of the best innervated regions of the body, with perhaps as many nerves involved in its control as are present in the brain according to some. With all of these nerves, it is easy to understand how easy it is to disturb it. One of the common reasons for this sensation could be due to dehydration. Becoming dehydrated can contribute to cramping in multiple muscles, including the abdominal musculature. Lactic acid build up can be another cause of nausea and vomiting, and would be expected if you are doing short sprints of strenuous activity when you notice this problem. Additionally, eating heavy or fatty foods before you work out could be a part of the problem, as stress tends to decrease bowel motility which can lead to the sensation of nausea. All of these problems are generally things that can be overcome as you improve your endurance levels, but please speak with your doctor to make sure there is nothing serious causing your symptoms.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.