Nausea is a common side effect of many cancer treatments, including chemotherapy. You may also experience other symptoms, such as lack of appetite, a change in the way foods taste or heartburn. Your doctor may consider anti-nausea medications and there are things you can do on your own to help.

Managing Nausea

These simple steps can help you cope with nausea associated with treatment:

  • Rinse your mouth often to eliminate any bad taste.
  • Avoid strongly scented foods, or very warm food, which can bring on nausea.
  • Explore how your taste buds may have changed. Determine what foods taste good to you now.
  • Ask your doctor about anti-nausea medication if symptoms persist.

Nausea is a common side effect of many cancer treatments, including chemotherapy. You may also experience other symptoms, such as lack of appetite, a change in the way foods taste or heartburn. Your doctor may consider anti-nausea medications and there are things you can do on your own to help.

If you have just had a bout of nausea and vomiting:

  • Try taking small sips of fluid or sucking on ice chips an hour or so after vomiting.
  • Eating crackers or toast may also help. Because they are mild, these foods are good choices for putting something back into your stomach without causing upset.
  • Use meditation and relaxation resources to calm your body, which can help you to cope with feelings of nausea.

Increasing Appetite

Do your best to maintain a nutritious diet during and after cancer treatment. Eating isn’t just about making you feel better. It is also important for your health and recovery. We suggest the following tips:

  • Make the atmosphere more pleasant during mealtime by using colorful place settings, flowers or background music. Arrange your plate attractively and garnish your food if possible.
  • Eat smaller meals frequently throughout the day rather than two or three big meals, snacking and drinking fluids between your meals.
  • Establish a pattern of eating meals and snacks at the same time each day. Listen to your body, and eat what appeals to you. If the clock says it is time for dinner and you are craving breakfast foods, go with your desires.
  • Keep snacks handy. People tend to eat more when food is readily available. Reach out to local food banks or community support services if you’re having difficulty accessing food.
  • At times when your appetite is low, try eating bland foods you can keep down. When you have some appetite, try to eat some of your favorite food, no matter the time of day.
  • If you cannot eat enough food to maintain your weight, try high-calorie, high-protein drinks prescribed by your doctor.

Edited by Charlotte Ference, LMSW

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This fact sheet is made possible by Takeda Oncology.

Last updated June 10, 2021

The information presented in this publication is provided for your general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultations with qualified health professionals who are aware of your specific situation. We encourage you to take information and questions back to your individual health care provider as a way of creating a dialogue and partnership about your cancer and your treatment.

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