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Symptom Management:

Symptom Management

Side Effects of Treatment
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Appetite Loss
Bladder Disturbances
Incontinence - Urinary
Dryness of the Mouth
Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances
Flu-like Syndrome
Hair Loss
Menopausal Symptoms
Nausea & Vomiting
Neurological Disturbances
Spinal Cord Compression
Peritoneal Effusions
Shortness of Breath
Skin Conditions
Sleep Problems (Insomnia/Oversleeping)
Sore Mouth
Bone Metastases
Sexuality Issues
Sexual Dysfunction
Nausea and Vomiting from Chemotherapy

Symptom and Description Nausea (feeling queasy or sick to your stomach) and/or vomiting (throwing up) may happen from your chemotherapy. Nausea and vomiting (if they happen) are usually worst on the day of your treatment. Sometimes nausea and vomiting can last for 3 or more days after chemotherapy.

Learning Needs Nausea and vomiting are very unpleasant. Either or both may be barely noticeable or may be severe and cause you to be unable to do things that are important to you. In addition, if you vomit a lot you can get dehydrated and have other problems from losing body salts. If you are vomiting and cannot drink fluids, you may have even worse side effects of chemotherapy to your kidneys or bladder.

You should call your doctor or nurse if:

  • You have nausea that lasts for more than a few days, or if nausea keeps you from doing things that are important to you.
  • You vomit more than once or twice a day for 2 days.
  • You cannot keep any liquids (such as water, juices, soda) or food down.
  • You are vomiting and you lose more than 2 pounds in a day (this is from losing water). You will usually feel thirsty and your mouth will seem dry when you are losing a lot of water.
  • You are vomiting many times and your urine is dark yellow and you are not going to the bathroom as often as you normally do.
  • You are vomiting and feel lightheaded or dizzy, or confused (mixed up).
  • The stuff you throw up looks like coffee grounds (this could be blood).

Prevention We have many medicines to control nausea and vomiting (antiemetics). If nausea and vomiting might happen after your chemotherapy, your doctor will prescribe one or more of them for you.

  • Make sure you get your antiemetics. Let your doctor or nurse know if your drug store does not have them or if you cannot afford to pay for them.
  • If you are not sure how to take your antiemetics, call your doctor or nurse.
  • Take the antiemetic(s) as your doctor has ordered. If you have vomiting and cannot take them, call your doctor or nurse.
  • If your antiemetics help lessen your nausea and vomiting but not as much as you would like, call your doctor or nurse. The dose of the antiemetic may have to be changed, or the doctor may change you to a different antiemetic.

Management When nausea and vomiting are very bad, you may need to come to the office for antiemetics, and possibly for fluids, through a vein (an IV). Sometimes your doctor will also order blood test sand x-ray films to find out why you are vomiting. Most of the time, your doctor and nurse will be able to get your vomiting under control so that you can take pills to control it.

Self-Management In addition to taking your antiemetics, you can try one or more things that other people have found helpful:

  • Try eating foods and drinking beverages that were easy for you to take or have made you feel better when you had the flu, had morning sickness, or were nauseated from stress. These might be bland foods, sour candy, pickles, dry crackers, ginger ale, flat soda, or others.
  • Do not eat your favorite foods when you are nauseated.
  • Do not eat fatty or fried foods, very spicy foods, or very sweet foods when you are nauseated.
  • If possible, have somebody else make the meals when you are nauseated.
  • If you have nausea and vomiting only for a few days after chemotherapy, cook and freeze several meals that you can reheat during times you are nauseated.
  • Eat foods that are at room temperature or cold. The smells from hot foods may make your nausea worse.
  • Keep your mouth clean; brush at least twice a day.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse if they can help you learn a relaxation exercise. This might make you feel less anxious and more in control, and decrease your nausea.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about using acupressure bands on your wrists, which may help to decrease your nausea.

Follow-up Call your nurse and/or doctor if any of the following happen:

  • You have nausea and vomiting that are not controlled with the antiemetics ordered.
  • You have side effects that you do not like from your antiemetics.
  • You start to have a lot of nausea and vomiting and cannot keep liquids down and are losing weight.
  • You are dizzy and/or confused.
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2004 2nd Cancer Opinion USA