Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Nausea From Working Under Cars

I’m not doubting that as a possible explanation – yet maybe those who experience it when working under cars can try the same arm movements and exertion when lying on other surfaces (bed, couch, beach).
I’ve tried and have yet to reproduce the same nausea

I have this same problem, but not only when working on cars. I’ve experienced it when working under the sick to replace a faucet and working in my crawl space wrapping insulation around water pipes. I also mentioned it to my doctor and he had no suggestions. He suggested not straining my head/neck up as that might put pressure on the carotid arteries and cause a problem.

It feels like motion sickness, which I also get, but taking dramamine does not help. The vertigo suggestion is the first one I’ve heard that has a medical explanation.

1 Like

That was my experience. I’m small but still had trouble getting into those 2x2 showers. Sorry for not reading all the responses first. Maybe someday. One thing that told me I needed glasses was laying under the car and not being able to get my head far enough away to see what I was doing. I might suggest talking to an ear, nose, and throat doc for an inner ear issue. The other thing is that you can hit a threshold with some chemicals where you are fine for years and then all of a sudden can’t tolerate them anymore. So yeah, you have to try and identify anything that may be involved.

Physicals will not reveal blood flow problems.

I wonder if some mix up nausea with anxiety, because symptoms are somewhat similar. I used to be able to spent hours under a car without giving it a second thought.

Now, at 70 I check several times to make sure jack stands are good, car can’t roll, do I have my cell phone close by, what do I look like if this thing falls on my head… etc. and I try to keep my time under a car to a minimum.

are you suggesting a (non-specific?) blood flow problem that only happens under cars or similar conditions but not other situations?

Yes a good physical will detect blood flow problems. Doctors listen for bruits in the carotid arteries and descending aorta, and check pedal pulse. Ultrasound can be ordered to check for arterial occlusion.

I have exactly the same problem, ie I feel very ill (heavy head / nausea) if I crawl under the car and look upwards. I also have this problem if I work under a sink or desk but only if I look up. It can take about two days to recover fully (if bad) and makes work under my car (something I used to do a lot) near impossible.

over the holiday weekend, I wound up reproducing the same nausea by doing more sit-up/crunches than I usually do

I normally do sets of 20 repetitions, but maybe because of the extra turkey, I did a set of 30 and BINGO!! the same nausea hit me

so nothing over my face or above me, not even arms above me doing work – just a form of over-exertion

when I looked it up, I found out that it is a type of redirection of blood flow away from the stomach that causes nausea – more significant if one has eaten within the last 90 minutes or so

I get nausea while laying on my back under a car. I tried using a creeper today puked up breakfast all over me. A friend was with me and had to help me stand. The repair was complete thank goodness. I sure need to figure this out or hire someone else to do my knuckle busting.

Thank You, Roseanne Roseannadanna.
A little too much information for me, personally, but at least you left out a description of what you had for breakfast.

"You know how it feels when you’re leaning back on a chair , and you lean too far back , and you almost fall over backwards, but then you catch yourself at the last second? I feel like that all the time." (My favorite Steven Wright quote because I do feel like that all the time!)
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

Sounds like vertigo. Sadly, I am cursed with vertigo. Go to an ENT and describe your symptoms. It certainly sounds like a vestibular issue, given that it happens while looking upwards. I sincerely hope this is not the case because vertigo is truly awful.

Blood flow is diverted TO the stomach after eating, to oxygenate the stomach muscle to aid in digestion. It’s why your limbs get cold after eating.

My limbs do not get cold, but a 20 minute nap feels great.

I have also had this problem since I have worked on cars as a teenager. I’m 53 now and every time I’m under a vehicle I get dizzy and nauseous but have never vomited. It lasts for hours. I really don’t have any issues if I’m on my creeper though. Very weird. I have such a hard time with oil changes that I’ll take it somewhere to have it done.

Sorry that’s such a problem for you. I still suspect it is related to the amount of exertion and how much is in one’s stomach (or how long it’s been digesting)

Maybe the creeper reduces exertion by fewer muscles tensing up? (to reduce exertion)

I sympathize with all of you that suffer with this. I wonder if it has anything to do with claustrophobia.

I suffer with neither, as a matter of fact, my next door neighbor accused me of getting a sheet of cardboard to lay on and a hammer to tap on something under the car every time my mother in law came over. Mother in law is long gone but the busybody still lives next door.

I get hot and cold sweats, feel nauseous and generally anxious whenever I am sitting upright in a chair at the repair shop. Strangely, I feel just fine when lying down underneath my car doing my own work…

1 Like

Hey guys, recently I’ve been getting nauseated while working on vehicles as well, something that never used to happen. I believe the cause of this is vertigo as stated above. I think this because I never used to get car sick either but as I’m getting older car sickness is getting more common for me and more severe. The solution is antihistamines, like benadryl. which is what the doctor recommended for the car sickness so I imagine it would work for this as well. also staying hydrated and avoiding caffeine. Anyway, just thought I’d share that so hopefully it helps someone

Thankfully I have never experienced any sort of this stuff while under something as familiar as a car or light truck…things I have become accustomed to over the years… My biggest enemy seems to be my imagination and the thoughts I can come up with when my nose is almost touching the bottom of something very big and very heavy. Heavy equipment type of heavy…

My fear used to be heights…really high ones like tall radio antennae…one that is swaying and I’m the idiot on top changing the light bulb… I cant explain it…but my fear of heights over the years simply went away… and has done a complete reversal and turned into slight claustrophobia… Not the type that strikes you when you are in a closet or on a bus…but the type when I am underneath a large excavator (welding lets say…last week) or inside of a pipe (again that damn welder) type of thing…when you have absolutely NO where to go or any chance of survival should the worst happen…really confined and dangerous situations make me freak out in a claustrophobic kinda way…but I still finish my task, whatever that be. I just need to play mental warfare with the insane guy who speaks his every thought into my head, sometimes he is very convincing other times I just tell him to eff himself…

Oh did I mention the thoughts I was having while inside that pipe welding?..while I was soaking wet…with about 200 amps flying out of the stinger ? Those weren’t claustrophobic thoughts…those were really all over the map…especially when I could start feeling a strange tingle along my spine that was growing in strength and curiously…in places I was most saturated… I wonder what that could’ve been ?

I really need to start acting my age I think…but that has honestly never worked out well… I was old when young…and I seem to have paused in the middle and not matured much afterward… I mark that time around 27yrs old… I was 27 when I was 15…and I’m still 27 nearing the end of my 40’s… I’m a strange dude for sure…but the people here seem to accept me…even if its just because of my wardrobe.

I’ve experienced the nausea for a few years now. My neighbor gets it too. It’s not rare. According to my doctor it can have several causes. Eye strain, blood pressure changes, inner ear issues caused by ageing and neck muscle strain or combinations of any of these. Getting the vehicle high enough so I can work on my side when possible helps. So does head support. No total cure though so I take lots of breaks before it gets too bad. The headaches can last for days. Getting old sucks but better than the alternative.