6 Ways to Reduce Nausea During Chemotherapy

How to Reduce Nausea and Improve Quality of Life During Treatment

Nausea is one the most common side effects of chemotherapy, and it can also be one of the most miserable ones. Although nausea may seem like a harmless side effect of chemotherapy, it can lead to a loss of appetite. In turn, a loss of appetite can lead to dehydration, which can be serious.

Although common, not all people will experience nausea during chemotherapy. Several measures can be taken to relieve nausea.

1
Talk to your doctor about your nausea.

Doctor talking with patient
Doctor talking with patient. Getty Images/LWA/Dann Tardif/Blend Images

Your doctor needs to be aware of any side effects you are experiencing, even if they seem minor. Chances are, if you are nauseated, you aren't eating or drinking enough. This can lead to dehydration and weight loss, which can certainly affect treatment. In some cases, doctors can prescribe medication to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

2
Eat small meals throughout the day.

Eating small portions
Eating small portions. Getty Images/Tetra Images

Instead of eating three square meals a day, opt for lighter, healthier meals 5 to 6 times a day. It is easier to keep down small amounts of food when you are nauseated than a large amount, even when you feel really hungry. Try to stick to a balanced, healthy diet. Your doctor or dietitian can advise you of specific nutrient-rich foods you may need during treatment and how much you should consume.

3
Avoid greasy foods.

Queasy stomach
Queasy stomach. Getty Images/PhotoAlto/Alix Minde

One of the goals during treatment is to eat well-balanced meals that will provide your body with much-needed energy. When making food choices, think of food as a fuel source. It may seem easiest to eat a burger and fries on the run. But a reasonable portion of a healthy protein, carbohydrate, and vegetable will be easier on the digestive system and provide nutrients so that the body can create and store energy. Try to avoid fatty, greasy foods right before or during treatment. These foods are are often difficult to digest in the first place, let alone with bouts of nausea. Plus, another goal is to keep the food you eat down, and greasy foods can often make nausea worse, leading to vomiting.

4
Stay away from strong odors.

Unpleasant odor
Unpleasant odor. Getty Images/Jupiterimages/The Image Bank

A strong smell can trigger a bout of nausea unexpectedly. One of the most common nausea triggers is the smell of food or food preparation. Some people can be so sensitive to it during chemotherapy that family members cannot eat or prepare food in the same house. If the smell of food causes nausea, try using fans in the kitchen or open the windows in warm weather. Additionally, you may want to avoid restaurants during treatment until you can determine what may trigger nausea.

5
Rest after eating.

Ill woman resting
Ill woman resting. Getty Images/ZenShui/Michele Constantini

Rest after eating, but do not lay completely flat. Try sitting in an upright position or in a recliner for at least 20 minutes after eating. This will aid in digestion better than laying flat.

6
Drink fluids at room temperature.

Leaning over bathroom sink with glass of water
Leaning over bathroom sink with glass of water. Getty Images/Peter Cade/Photographer's Choice

Cold or hot beverages may worsen nausea. Try to consume beverages at room temperature. You may also find it helpful to eat foods at room temperature or at a slightly warm temperature, as opposed to hot or cold.


Source:

"Nausea and Vomiting" American Cancer Society. 29 April 2015.

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