6 Ways to Reduce Nausea During Chemotherapy

Nausea is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy, and it can also be one of the most miserable ones. Although nausea may seem like a harmless side effect of chemotherapy, it can lead to a loss of appetite. In turn, a loss of appetite can lead to dehydration, which can be serious.

Although common, not all people will experience nausea during chemotherapy. Several measures can be taken to relieve nausea.


Talk to Your Healthcare Provider About Your Nausea

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Your healthcare provider needs to be aware of any side effects you are experiencing, even if they seem minor. Chances are, if you are nauseated, you aren't eating or drinking enough. This can lead to dehydration and weight loss, which can certainly affect treatment. In some cases, healthcare providers can prescribe medication to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.


Eat Small Meals Throughout the Day

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Instead of eating three square meals a day, opt for lighter, healthier meals 5 to 6 times a day. It is easier to keep down small amounts of food when you are nauseated than a large amount, even when you feel really hungry. Try to stick to a balanced, healthy diet. Your healthcare provider or dietitian can advise you of specific nutrient-rich foods you may need during treatment and how much you should consume.


Avoid Greasy Foods

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One of the goals of treatment is to eat well-balanced meals that will provide your body with much-needed energy. When making food choices, think of food as a fuel source. It may seem easiest to eat a burger and fries on the run. But a reasonable portion of a healthy protein, carbohydrate, and vegetable will be easier on the digestive system and provide nutrients so that the body can create and store energy. Try to avoid fatty, greasy foods right before or during treatment. These foods are often difficult to digest in the first place, let alone with bouts of nausea. Plus, another goal is to keep the food you eat down, and greasy foods can often make nausea worse, leading to vomiting.


Stay Away From Strong Odors

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A strong smell can trigger a bout of nausea unexpectedly. One of the most common nausea triggers is the smell of food or food preparation. Some people can be so sensitive to it during chemotherapy that family members cannot eat or prepare food in the same house. If the smell of food causes nausea, try using fans in the kitchen or open the windows in warm weather. Additionally, you may want to avoid restaurants during treatment until you can determine what may trigger nausea.


Rest After Eating

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Rest after eating, but do not lay completely flat. Try sitting in an upright position or in a recliner for at least 20 minutes after eating. This will aid in digestion better than laying flat.


Drink Fluids at Room Temperature

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Cold or hot beverages may worsen nausea. Try to consume beverages at room temperature. You may also find it helpful to eat foods at room temperature or at a slightly warm temperature, as opposed to hot or cold.

1 Source
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  1. Khodarahmi M, Azadbakht L. Dietary fat intake and functional dyspepsiaAdv Biomed Res. 2016;5:76. doi:10.4103/2277-9175.180988

Additional Reading

By Lisa Fayed
Lisa Fayed is a freelance medical writer, cancer educator and patient advocate.