10 ways to help control nausea during chemotherapy

February 28, 2018 | by Samir Undevia, MD

There is no worse feeling than nausea. It’s that unpleasant, usually painless symptom when your stomach makes you feel like you are about to be sick at any moment.

While you are going through certain cancer treatments, you may feel nauseated. This is because treatments like chemotherapy destroy cancer cells as well as some healthy cells in your body. This sets off warning signals in your brain and digestive system, making you feel queasy.

You may experience nausea before you have chemo (anticipatory), within a few hours of your treatment, or after 24 hours of your treatment. Your doctor may prescribe you an anti-nausea medication before treatment begins, but there are things you can do at home to ease nausea:

  • Eat frequent, small meals and have a snack at bedtime
  • Drink clear liquids like ginger ale, apple juice, broth or sea, served cold and sipped slowly
  • Suck on hard candy with pleasant smells, like lemon drops or mints
  • Eat bland foods, such as dry toast and crackers
  • Eat food cold or at room temperature to decrease its smell and taste
  • Avoid fatty, fried, spicy or very sweet foods
  • Try small amounts of foods in high calories that are easy to eat, such as pudding, ice cream, sherbets, yogurt and milkshakes

You can also try to keep your mind busy when you aren’t feeling well by trying some of these relaxation methods:

  • Rest quietly while sitting upright for at least an hour after each meal
  • Distract yourself with soft music, a favorite TV program or the company of others
  • Try deep breathing exercises, including yoga and meditation

Frequent vomiting can become dangerous because it can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. It can also make you feel weak and reduce your quality of life.

If you are concerned about nausea or if nausea is impacting your life, talk to your cancer care team. Your care team will work with you to manage your symptoms so you can stay strong to continue with treatment. A registered dietitian can also help you with personalized meal planning.

What helps you throughout treatment? Tell us in the below comments.

Learn more about cancer services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Related blogs:

How to stay nourished during cancer treatment

Foods to avoid during cancer treatment


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