How to combat nausea
- Tell your doctor – don’t just try to carry-on. It’s important your medical team know so they can monitor your dehydration and weight loss. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe anti-nausea medication
- Eat little and often – it’s easier to keep down small amounts of food when you are nauseated than a plate full
- Eat bland foods - such as dry toast and crackers
- Avoid greasy food - fatty and greasy foods are more difficult for your stomach to digest
- Eat the foods you like - many people develop a dislike for red meat and meat broths during treatment. Try other protein sources, such as fish, chicken, beans, and nuts
- Avoid strong smells – they can trigger nausea. Food preparation can be a problem so ask for help. And if there’s no immediate help at hand open windows and turn on the extractor fans. Some people resort to wearing a snorkelling mask - you may look odd, but it does work!
- Give your stomach time to digest your food –sit upright in a comfy chair for at least 20 minutes before lying down
- Drink beverages at room temperature – it may help to consume drinks or eat foods (that are safe to do so) at room temperature or slightly warmer, as opposed to hot or cold
- Use a straw - it’s so important to keep as hydrated as possible and many people say a straw helps keeps things down. Especially after a chemo session when liquids will help dilute and flush toxins out of your body faster
- Suck on hard candy with pleasant smells, such as lemon drops or mints, to help get rid of bad tastes
- Distract yourself with soft music, download a film or a box set or call upon a friend or family member for company
- Take some ginger - a lot of people in the Chemotherapy Support Group are advocating ginger – ginger tea, ginger lozenges, ginger ale and ginger biscuits. Thomasena said the only liquid she could drink immediately after chemo was ginger ale and she found that ginger lozenges helped to settle her stomach
- Try breathing exercises -The University of Connecticut conducted a study which indicated that controlled, deep breathing can help relieve nausea. Try this exercise adapted from the University of Missouri at Kansas City:
- Lie flat on your back. Use pillows under your knees and neck to make sure you are comfortable
- Put your hands palms down on your stomach, right below the rib cage. Place the fingers of your hands together so you can feel them separate and know you are doing the exercise correctly
- Take a long, slow deep breath by expanding your belly, breathing like a baby breathes. This ensures that you are using your diaphragm to breathe rather than your rib cage. The diaphragm creates suction that pulls more air into your lungs than can be achieved by expanding the rib cage. Your fingers should separate as they lie on your belly.
- Breathe in this manner for at least 5 minutes
If you’ve been sick here’s what to do:
- If you are in bed, lie on your side so that if you are sick again you won’t inhale the vomit
- Ask your doctor for anti-nausea medicines in the form of dissolving tablets or suppositories
- It’s important to take liquids – try ice chips or frozen juice chips, which can be taken slowly
- After the vomiting stops, start taking in 1 teaspoon of cool liquid every 10 minutes. Gradually increase to 1 tablespoon. If you are able to keep that down after an hour or so, try larger amount.
- There are a number of rehydration remedies in the form of powered sachets such as Dioralyte™ – it may be worth adding these to your water to aid recovery. But always check with your medical team first
Although incredibly unpleasant, the feeling of nausea will pass. If you are struggling with nausea join the Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group, with thousands of members ready to offer their advice and support.