Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Coping with Nausea and Vomiting From Chemotherapy

Many people fear that they will have nausea and vomiting while receiving chemotherapy. However, these side effects are less common and often less severe than most people think. Effective antivomiting drugs can prevent or lessen nausea and vomiting in most people.

It is important that you tell your doctor or nurse if you have these symptoms, especially if the vomiting lasts more than a day or if you cannot keep liquids down. You may feel sick a few hours after chemotherapy. Some people also have delayed side effects, feeling nauseous and vomiting a few days after treatment. This is still related to treatment, so be sure to tell your healthcare team.

Antinausea and Antivomiting Drugs  ^

There are several drugs available that are used to prevent or treat nausea and vomiting (called antiemetics). If you are taking chemotherapy drugs that carry a high risk of nausea and vomiting, you may receive treatment in advance of chemotherapy. Drugs can be given by mouth, injection, patch, or as a suppository.

Vomiting results from a complex set of nerve pathways between the brain and digestive system. Drugs work on these different pathways to ease symptoms. Examples include:

Remember that different drugs work for different people and finding the right combination can take some time. Your healthcare team will work with you to find the right combination.

Make arrangements with your insurance company in advance. Some drugs may not be covered under your current plan. If not, make sure to discuss your options with your healthcare team.

Tips for Coping  ^

In addition to taking your medication, here are some steps that you can take to reduce nausea and vomiting:

RESOURCES:

American Cancer Society
https://www.cancer.org

National Cancer Institute
https://www.cancer.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

BC Cancer Agency
http://www.bccancer.bc.ca

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca

REFERENCES:

Chemotherapy and you. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/chemotherapy-and-you.pdf. Accessed November 9, 2017.

Coping with nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. Cancer Care website. Available at: https://media.cancercare.org/publications/original/7-ccc_nausea_chemo.pdf. Accessed November 9, 2017.

Managing nausea and vomiting at home. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/nausea-and-vomiting/nausea-and-vomiting.html. Updated February 13, 2017. Accessed November 9, 2017.

Medications to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/nausea-and-vomiting/nausea-and-vomiting-drugs.html. Updated February 13, 2017. Accessed November 9, 2017.

Toxicities of chemotherapeutic agents. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115935/Toxicities-of-chemotherapeutic-agents. Updated October 23, 2017. Accessed November 9, 2017.

Last reviewed November 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP  Last Updated: 11/9/2017