Oncology: Controlling Nausea and Vomiting

Oncology: Controlling Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Side effects result when treatment affects some normal cells as well as cancer cells. In this case, the cells lining your stomach and the part of your brain that controls vomiting are affected.

Call the Doctor If:

  • Nausea or vomiting lasts for 24 hours or more

  • You have trouble keeping fluids down

Man holding glass of water, preparing to take pill.
Taken before meals, medications can help ease nausea.
Medications Can Help

Nausea or vomiting can often be prevented or controlled with medications (antiemetics). Your doctor can give you antiemetics before or after treatment.

Eating Tips

  • If you have medications to control nausea, take them before meals as directed.

  • Avoid fatty or greasy foods while nauseous.

  • Eat small meals slowly throughout the day.

  • Ask someone to sit with you while you eat to keep you from thinking about feeling nauseated.

  • Eat foods at room temperature or colder to avoid strong smells.

  • Eat dry foods such as toast, crackers, or pretzels; cool, light foods such as applesauce; and bland foods such as oatmeal or skinned chicken.

Other Ways to Feel Better

  • Get a little fresh air. Take a short walk.

  • Talk to a friend, listen to music, or watch TV.

  • Take a few deep, slow breaths.

  • Eat by candlelight or in surroundings that you find relaxing.

  • Use a technique such as guided imagery to help you relax. Imagine yourself in a beautiful, restful scene. Or daydream about the place you’d most like to be.