Not everyone feels sick or nauseous with their treatment, but many people do. If nausea does occur, it usually happens a few hours after chemotherapy – and unfortunately it can last for quite a few hours.
There are a number of different medications that can be used to treat nausea, although it may take a while to find one that works for you.
It may also be difficult to find foods that stay down and actually taste good.
Ways to cope with nausea
Don’t eat any of your favourite foods immediately after the treatment – they may never be your favourites again!
Keep a ‘barf bag’ nearby at all times, especially in the car.
Simple hunger often prolongs nausea, so make sure you keep eating! But don’t eat too much at any one time. Try five small meals a day instead of three big ones.
If you’re likely to be waiting for a while when visiting the doctor, take a nourishing snack or drink with you.
Chop up food into bite sized pieces to make eating less of an effort.
Eat your main meal of the day at whatever time you feel best.
Choose foods that don’t have a strong smell.
Choose fluids that’ll give you some energy – like juice, milk or cordial.
Rest after eating.
If you’re up to it, eat with other people instead of by yourself. Or, try reading while you eat to take your mind off the food.
Don’t eat too many things that fill you up without being nutritious.
Eating and/or swallowing problems
Many people experience a sore mouth or some problems swallowing food as a result of cancer treatment.
Tips to cope with a sore mouth
Avoid foods that might sting your mouth like vinegar, spices, salty foods, alcohol (especially wine and spirits), very hot or very cold stuff, and acidic fruit juices.
Dilute fruit juice. Mango, pear or peach fruit juices are less irritating than citrus juices.
Try sucking on an ice block (don’t opt for orange or pineapple ones as the acid in them will hurt your mouth).
Eat soft, smooth, creamy foods. Chop, blend, mince or puree food to make it easier to swallow.
Avoid rough, dry and crunchy foods like nuts, chips and dry crackers.
Try drinking liquids through a straw if you have mouth ulcers.
Pay special attention to mouth hygiene to help prevent infection. Try a mouthwash (not a commercial one as that will sting) after each meal. Use a soft toothbrush and brush your teeth twice a day.
Be careful brushing your teeth. You may have a low platelet count and brushing your teeth may cause your gums to bleed. If it’s too painful, try using a mouthwash instead.
Talk to your doctor if you have persistent ulcers or a white coating in the mouth (thrush).
Tell your doctor or dietitian if you have severe difficulty swallowing for a considerable period of time.
Tips to cope with a dry mouth
Have drinks with meals and try and take small sips throughout.
Try sucking on ice blocks or ice cubes.
Cook meat until it is very tender so you don’t have so much chewing to do.