Nausea is a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. You may also experience other symptoms, such as fatigue, a feeling of fullness, a change in the way foods taste, or strong heartburn. Talk with your doctor about anti-nausea medications to ease or prevent symptoms. There are also a number of things that you can do on your own to help yourself feel better.

Managing Nausea

These simple steps often go far in helping you cope with nausea associated with chemotherapy or radiation:
• Rinse your mouth often to eliminate any bad taste.
• Distract yourself with music, television, or other activities you enjoy.
• Wear loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t bind or add stress to your body.
• Avoid strongly scented foods, which can bring on nausea.
• Explore how your taste buds may have changed. Determine what foods taste good to you now.

If you have just had a bout of nausea and vomiting:
• An hour or so after vomiting, try taking small sips of fluid or sucking on ice chips. This helps to settle your stomach.
• 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.
• Having someone stay with you can give you the gentle encouragement you need to relax, which also helps to settle your stomach.

Increasing Your Appetite

Do your best to maintain a nutritious diet during and after cancer treatment. Eating right 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.
• Eat smaller meals frequently throughout the day rather than two or three big meals.
• Have healthy snacks between meals.
• Establish a pattern of eating meals and snacks at the same time each day. Stick to this schedule, even when you are not hungry.
• Keep snacks handy. People tend to eat more when food is readily available.
• At times when your appetite is not good, rely on foods you really like.
• If you cannot eat enough food to maintain your weight, try high-calorie, high-protein drinks prescribed by your doctor.

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This fact sheet was supported by a grant from Genentech, a contribution from Lilly and an educational donation provided by Amgen.

Last updated February 08, 2017

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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