Some cancer patients may experience nausea and vomiting throughout their treatment and recovery process. If it is triggered by chemotherapy treatments, nausea and/or vomiting can begin on the first day of treatment and last for a few days, depending on what medications you are using. If you receive radiation therapy to the belly, chest or pelvis, it may start shortly after your treatment and last for several hours. Nausea and vomiting can have other causes, too.
Be sure to tell your doctor or nurse if you feel nauseated or are vomiting. There are medicines that can help. These medicines should be taken as prescribed by your doctor. Keep your provider informed about any returning symptoms or uneasiness. Often adjustments in doses or timing of medicines can ease your discomfort.
Managing Nausea and Vomiting
- Eat six to eight small meals a day, instead of three large meals.
- Eat dry foods, such as crackers, toast, dry cereals or breadsticks, when you wake up and every few hours during the day.
- Eat foods that do not have a strong odor.
- Eat cool foods instead of hot, spicy foods.
- Avoid foods that are overly sweet, greasy, fried or spicy, like rich desserts and fries.
- Try not to lie down right after eating. If you feel tired and need to rest, sit up or recline with your head propped up for at least an hour after eating.
- Sip clear liquids frequently to prevent dehydration. Clear liquids include soup broth, sports drinks, water, juice, gelatin and popsicles.
- Ask your doctor about medicines to prevent or stop nausea.
- Try bland, soft, easy-to-digest foods on scheduled treatment days. Foods like cream of wheat and chicken noodle soup with saltine crackers may be easier to keep down than heavy meals.
- Avoid eating in a room that feels too warm or that has strong cooking odors or other smells.
- Cook outside on the grill or use boiling bags to reduce cooking odors.
- Rinse your mouth with a baking soda and salt mouthwash before and after meals (one quart water, one teaspoon baking soda and one teaspoon salt, mixed well before each use).
- Suck on hard candy, like peppermint or lemon, if there is a bad taste in your mouth.
- If you are vomiting, dehydration can become a problem. You will need to drink clear liquids as often as possible during this time. After you have vomited, rinse your mouth, wait about 30 minutes and then try to drink sips of a clear liquid like apple juice, cranberry juice, flat soda or broth, or take bites of flavored ice.