As you are probably already aware of, nausea is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy, and usually, the first one people experience when they start treatment. Some are able to deal with feeling sick with more ease, while for others this presents a much bigger challenge.
Different things in a person’s chemotherapy can increase the risk of them experiencing nausea, from the frequency of treatment and dosing, to how the medication is given (by mouth or intravenously). The good news is that there are several ways to manage nausea caused by chemo, including medication and lifestyle changes, so if one doesn’t work, you can always try another one.
Give Acupuncture a Try
Often used as an alternative or additional therapy, acupuncture has been deemed by the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) as a safe treatment that can help people who are on chemo manage their nausea. According to one study, acupuncture in combination with moxibustion (a type of heat therapy) reduced nausea in people who were treated with a certain chemotherapy drug. However, ASCO does advise that people who have cancer and low white blood cell counts should avoid acupuncture, because their chances of getting an infection are higher than in other people.
Use Different Relaxation Techniques
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there are some relaxation techniques that can help people who are experiencing chemo-related nausea. Seeing as these techniques are non-invasive, you can try them on your own, at home, in the hopes of reducing nausea. The ACS says that the following have been proven to be most effective:
- Guided imagery (which is a type of meditation),
- Progressive muscle relaxation (which teaches you to tense and relax different groups of muscles in your body),
- Biofeedback (which allows you to have an effect on certain physical responses in your body),
- Music therapy (which is a complementary therapy, led by trained professionals).
A number of cancer centers offer assistance when it comes to learning some of these relaxation techniques, and there are a number of courses you can join if you need to become familiar with one or more of these techniques.
Eat Less and More Frequently
Instead of eating three large meals per day, it’s best to eat smaller meals intermittently, if you wish to decrease chemotherapy-induced nausea. What you should not do if you’re feeling nauseous is skip meals—in fact, eating a light mean a couple of hours prior to your treatment can prevent nausea. It’s also recommended that you avoid greasy, fried, fatty, or sweet foods and any foods whose smell makes you feel even more nauseous.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated in addition to all of this—drink plenty of water, sports drinks, fruit juice, and herbal teas, i.e. whatever might help to relieve nausea.
Ask for Anti-nausea Medication
Most often, your doctor will recommend that you take anti-nausea medications (anti-emetics) along with your treatment. These medications can be taken by mouth, intravenously, or in a suppository form, but what’s important is that they can help you feel better. Depending on your chemotherapy, your doctor will prescribe the right medications. If you start chemo and develop a constant feeling of nausea, don’t be afraid to tell your doctor and ask for anti-emetics.
Are you experiencing nausea from your chemotherapy? Dr. Best and the Neuroscience Center can help you determine the best course of action that will have you feeling better in no time.
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