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Nausea and Vomiting

Many cancer treatments can cause nausea and vomiting. Nausea, also called feeling “queasy” or “sick to your stomach,” is that unpleasant feeling you have when you are going to throw up. Vomiting is throwing up what is inside your stomach through the mouth. Nausea and vomiting can happen together, or one can occur without the other. The severity of nausea and vomiting varies among patients. Sometimes these side effects improve as you adjust to treatment, and most side effects go away after treatment ends.

Talk to your healthcare team about any side effects you experience. Your healthcare team may be able to prescribe medication to help with nausea. Take medications as prescribed. Do not take over-the-counter medications or supplements without speaking to healthcare team first. 

The following tips may hep you prevent or control nausea and vomiting:

  • Eat small meals throughout the day.
  • Try eating dry, bland foods, such as crackers or toast. Avoid foods that may trigger nausea such as fried foods, spicy foods or foods with strong smells. 
  • Try products that contain the spice ginger. Some people find that ginger helps relieve nausea.
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids, especially after vomiting, to stay hydrated. 
  • Stay sitting up after eating.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.  
  • Ask your healthcare team about complementary therapies that may help, such as acupuncture or meditation. 

Severe Side Effects 

Call your healthcare team immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F or higher
  • Nausea and/or vomiting accompanied by abdominal pain or a severe headache
  • Vomiting blood (which may look like coffee grounds)
  • Inability to keep down your medication
    • If you vomit soon after taking a medication, call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions. 
  • Vomiting for more than two days
  • Signs or symptoms of dehydration (dark urine, small amounts of urine, excessive thirst, dry mouth, rapid pulse, headaches, dizziness and confusion)

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