Georgia's Online Cancer Information Center

Nausea & Vomiting

Cancer treatment can sometimes cause unexpected side effects that don't make you feel great. Some of these are nausea, vomiting, appetite changes and eating changes. It is important to discuss all changes with your care team so that they can assess if the effect is normal or abnormal for you.

Nausea is a feeling that many of us have felt before. It feels like a queasy, sick to your stomach feeling. Sometimes you feel like throwing up whether its food in your stomach or not. Nausea can range from mild to serious depending on your condition. Consist of nausea with vomiting may cause dehydration, weight loss and fatigue. It's important to speak to your care team early on so that they can assess your symptoms and provide potential solutions to remedy them.

Causes

Nausea and vomiting can be caused for many different reasons. A few of the reasons are listed below:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Medications used in the cancer care process
  • Certain cancers like liver tumors, GI tumors and brain tumors.
  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration

Treatment

There are different methods that may help with nausea and vomiting.

  • Speak to your provider about treatment for nausea and vomiting if it has become a consistent issue for you. Ask your provider about "antiemetics" medication that may help to prevent nausea and vomiting.
  • Be mindful of the foods that you eat. Always stay hydrated but drinking plenty of liquids, preferably water throughout the day.
  • Be mindful of strong odors in your home and foods. Strong smells may trigger a nauseating feeling.
  • Distract yourself and do things that relax you and help take your mind off of the feeling of being nauseated
  • Try meditation or yoga
  • Try acupressure or acupuncture

Appetite & Eating Changes

Appetite changes during cancer treatment are normal. Treatments may cause adverse effects on the way you taste, smell, and absorb foods. It may also cause you to feel less hungry than you usually do.

There are several reasons that you may experience appetite changes. A few of them are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Swallowing problems
  • Mouth sores and infections
  • Constipation
  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of desire to eat

If you are experiencing any of these, you should work with your care team to address the underlying issue and help you develop a sound nutrition plan. Not eating may cause harmful side effects like tiredness, fatigue, loss of nutrients and decreased ability to fight infections.

Coping with eating problems

The tips below have been recommended by Cancer.gov.

  • Discuss your poor appetite with your cancer care team.
  • Keep in mind that food is an important part of your cancer treatment.
  • Eat as much as you can, but don’t make yourself eat.
  • Be sure to eat breakfast.
  • Try eating small meals throughout the day.
  • Avoid low-fat foods if possible. And add fat to meals with ingredients like butter and oil to increase calories.
  • Add tasty spices to food to make them more appetizing.
  • Eat your meals in a nice space with other people around to distract you, if possible.
  • Don’t drink fluids during your meal; it may make you feel more full. Instead, drink in between meals.
  • Go for a walk or try other light exercises before a meal.

References:

https://www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/physical-emotional-and-social-effects-cancer/managing-physical-side-effects/nausea-and-vomiting

https://sarahcannon.com/for-patients/learn-about-cancer/what-is-cancer/side-effects.dot#full

https://survivorship.cancer.gov/springboard/symptoms/appetite-changes

Last Updated: 10/30/2020 9:42:30 AM

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