When Treatment Makes You Ill: Ways to Manage Nausea

Armen Hareyan's picture

Manage Nausea

First, a cancer diagnosis. Then, worries about possible side effects from the treatment -- the nausea and vomiting you've heard about from others who have been treated for cancer.

In just the last decade, antinausea (antiemetic) drugs have improved, making a positive difference for people taking chemotherapy treatments, according to the February issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Chemotherapy drugs are rated for how likely they are to cause nausea. Based on those ratings, antinausea medications are commonly given as a preventive measure before chemotherapy begins.

In addition to medication choices, there's evidence that acupuncture can help provide relief from nausea and vomiting that's related to chemotherapy.

Along with antinausea medications, self-help strategies such as relaxation techniques may make a difference in how you feel during chemotherapy. Some other steps you can take to manage nausea include:

  • Not delaying - Use medications at the first sign of nausea.


  • Talking to your doctor - Be sure your doctor has a clear understanding of the severity of any nausea you experience. Usually, changes can be made to help in subsequent chemotherapy cycles if needed.

  • Eating lightly and frequently - Avoid having three large meals. Try a light snack a few hours before treatment.

  • Eating and drinking slowly - Pace yourself and stop eating when you are satisfied. Don't overeat.

  • Eating what appeals to you - Go for variety, but choose foods you find easiest to eat and digest. Even old standbys, such as soda crackers, may help.

  • Drinking plenty of fluids -Try sipping on cool beverages such as cola, flat ginger ale or lemon-flavored water to reduce nausea. But avoid filling up on liquids when you are eating.

  • Resting after eating - Don't lie flat, but take it easy after a meal with quiet activity that keeps your mind occupied.