Nausea In Cancer Therapy: Why Does It Occur And How To Manage It?
Around 80% of the people receiving chemotherapy may experience nausea. It can cause malnutrition and dehydration. Let’s look into why nausea occurs in cancer treatments, anti-nausea medicines and essential tips to stop nausea.
Why Does Nausea Occur During Cancer Therapy?
Nausea is one of the very common side effects of cancer therapy. Cancer therapy is mainly focused on attacking the fast-growing cancer cells, but some healthy cells are also affected during the treatment and cause side effects. When certain parts of the brain or gastrointestinal tract are triggered during the cancer treatment, it can lead to nausea.
Treatment involving cancers of the brain, gastrointestinal tract, and liver are more likely to cause nausea. The other factors which cause nausea in cancer treatment are infection, pain, constipation, and other medications taken during the cancer treatment. Sometimes cancer itself (mainly brain or abdominal cancer) or stress caused by cancer and its therapy can cause nausea.
Female patients and patients younger than fifty years are more likely to experience nausea in cancer treatment. A higher dose of the drug or radiation may make the symptom worse. Untreated nausea can keep you from getting the food and nutrients you need and end up in malnutrition and dehydration. Protein supplementation can help achieve good nutritional status in cancer patients experiencing nausea.
Best Ways To Manage Nausea In Cancer Patients
Anti-Nausea Medicines In Cancer Therapy
Your physician will figure out the cause of your nausea and prescribe one or more of the below-said medicines. These medicines can be given for you to take before, during, or after the therapy. There are different types of medicine, and one may work better than another for a particular person. Some of the common anti-nausea medicines are:
Drink Plenty Of Fluids
Drink at least two litres of fluids per day, and drink it slowly and throughout the day. Staying hydrated not only helps with nausea it also helps manage some of the side effects such as tiredness and kidney damage.
- Ginger is a better home remedy for nausea in cancer. Slice one inch of peeled ginger, add into one cup of boiling water, and steep for at least 5 minutes to prepare ginger tea. You can also eat ginger candies.
- Lemon contains a compound called citric acid, which helps soothe the stomach and aid digestion. Add some lemon juice into water and drink throughout the day. Simply breathing the scent of freshly cut lemons may also help ease nausea.
- Chamomile may help relax the digestive muscles and aid in nausea and vomiting. It may also ease anxiety. Add fresh or dried chamomile flowers in one cup of boiling water and steep for at least 5 minutes to prepare chamomile tea. You can buy chamomile tea bags online or at natural health stores.
- Drink clear liquids such as cranberry juice, apple juice, coconut water, etc. Some fruits and their juices may be contraindicated in cancer therapy as they may affect how well the medicines work. Make sure the fruit or juice you consume is not contraindicated for the medicine you are taking.
Eating Tips To Stop Nausea
- Eat small frequent (5 or 6) meals every few hours. It will reduce the strain on your stomach.
- Don’t skip meals as an empty stomach may make nausea worse
- Avoid hot or spicy foods and liquids. Let hot foods and liquids cool down before you eat.
- Avoid fried, spicy, or greasy foods.
- Drinking liquids in between meals may make you feel full soon. Try to avoid drinking liquids in between taking meals or sipping only small quantities of liquids.
- Avoid foods that have strong odors, such as fish, onions, or garlic.
- Keep dry foods such as dry cereal, saltine crackers, and toast for snacking.
- Take foods that are easy on the stomach, such as cooked rice, instant oatmeal, soft boiled eggs, soups, mashed vegetable side dishes, baked skinless chicken, etc.
- Take sugar-free mints, candies, ginger candies or gum, which keeps the pleasant taste in the mouth when you have nausea.
Acupressure Tips To Stop Nausea
Acupressure is ancient healing that applies pressure to the precise areas of the body to control symptoms such as nausea, pain, vomiting, etc. The pressure point P-6 is located in the inner arm near the wrist. Applying pressure on this point can help relieve nausea in cancer. Learn more to find pressure point P-6 and the acupressure process to control nausea.
Other Tips To Stop Nausea
Fresh air can help ease nausea. Sit in front of the fan or open a window, especially if your living area is too warm. Rest after meals. Try watching TV, reading a magazine, or talking with a loved one for about an hour. Do not lay flat for at least 2 hours after eating.
Deep breathing is a meditation technique, and it may be beneficial in nausea caused by anxiety during cancer treatments. Sit and take a deep breath, hold your breath for a while and then exhale. Repeat for a few more times.
Keep a note of when you feel nausea and what triggers it (specific foods, surroundings). Talk about these with your doctor. He or she might suggest changes that help in avoiding the triggers.
The Final Note
Nausea rarely leads to serious issues such as dehydration. Be sure to talk with your physician before using any complementary treatments to relieve nausea in cancer or if the anti-nausea medicine you are taking doesn’t help. Follow self-care measures and take anti-nausea medications regularly to feel better.