Many patients experience nausea and vomiting during cancer treatment. A number of things can trigger nausea and vomiting:
- Radiation therapy
- Kidney and liver problems
- Some medicines such as narcotics
- Infections of the gastrointestinal tract
- Anticipation before an appointment
Antinausea medicines (called anti-emetics) are available to help control nausea and vomiting. Patients often start taking these medicines before radiation and chemotherapy.
Call the clinic or hospital right away if any of these symptoms occur:
- Blood in the vomit
- Medicine not kept down because of vomiting
- Nausea that continues even when taking antinausea medicines
- Severe stomach pain while vomiting
- Uncontrolled, persistent nausea and vomiting
- Vomit that shoots out for a distance (projectile vomiting)
- Weakness or dizziness, along with nausea and vomiting
What patients can do:
- Avoid eating and drinking one hour before and one hour after chemotherapy.
- Avoid extremely hot or cold foods.
- Avoid odors that trigger nausea.
- Before starting chemotherapy infusion, relax in a quiet place for several minutes.
- Check with the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.
- Do not drink alcohol while taking antinausea medicines.
- Do not drive a car or operate any equipment when you are taking antinausea medicines.
- Drink cool, clear fruit juices.
- Eat and drink slowly so only small amounts are in the stomach at a time.
- Eat small meals throughout the day so the stomach is not too full.
- Eat dry toast or crackers to help ease nausea.
- Rinse your mouth with water often.
- Sit upright in a chair after eating.
- Take deep breaths through the mouth.
- Take your antinausea medicine as prescribed.
- Talk with your health care provider about acupuncture as a way to manage nausea and vomiting. Watch our video or call or visit HCI's Wellness-Survivorship Center for more information about this treatment.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.