Nausea and Vomiting

Cancer Center New Mexico

Nausea is  a feeling of sickness in the stomach that may lead to vomiting. Vomiting is the emptying of the stomach contents through the mouth. Nausea and vomiting may be caused by the chemotherapy or radiation treatment you are receiving. They may also be caused by the cancer itself, or other diseases. It is not pleasant, but it is common.

Everyone is different. Feelings of nausea are usually worse immediately following your chemotherapy treatment and may last for several days. Some people may have these feelings before treatment even starts. This anxiety may worsen feelings of nausea and vomiting. The purpose of this sheet is to help you PREVENT AND/ OR REDUCE your nausea and vomiting. You may need to learn about your medications for prevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting, your nurse or pharmacist can give you individual Medication Info Sheets for each medication.

Types of Nausea and Vomiting:

Nausea: This is the feeling that you have when you think that you are going to vomit. It may be constant or may come and go.

There are many things you can do to prevent or relieve nausea.  Your doctor may order medication for nausea.

Mild Vomiting: This is vomiting 1-2 times a day. Take your medication for vomiting exactly as ordered by your doctor.

Moderate Vomiting: This is vomiting 3-9 times a day. Take your medication for vomiting exactly as ordered by your doctor. If you vomit within 1 hour of taking your pill, you may take another pill. If you can’t keep anything down, suppositories may help. If you can’t keep anything down for more than 24hrs and you are feeling weak, call your doctor.

Severe Vomiting: This is constant vomiting (more than 10 times a day). If this lasts more than 24 hours phone your doctor.

Note: Nausea and vomiting can make it difficult for you to do things you enjoy, like spending time with your family and friends. Control of nausea and vomiting can help you feel better and do the things you want.

Nausea and Vomiting Side Effect Prevention, what you should do.


  • Take prescribed medication for nausea.
  • Before your treatment have only a small meal.
  • Eat small frequent meals for 2-3 days after treatment.
  • Limit spicy, fried foods and foods with strong smells.
  • Rest quietly during chemotherapy.
  • Changing your position or relaxation exercises may help.
  • You may want to focus your attention on T.V., music, reading, fresh air or walking.
  • Phone your doctor if nausea is severe and lasts longer than 48 hours.
  • Drink clear cool fluids.
  • Have several small meals a day and eat slowly.
  • Enjoy foods that are cold or at room temperature.
  • After eating, relax but do not lie down flat.
  • Try eating bland foods or dry starchy foods such as crackers and toast.
  • Keep a basin handy, in case you vomit.

Mild Vomiting

  • Take prescribed medication to prevent vomiting.
  • Try the nausea prevention ideas suggested above.

Moderate or Severe Vomiting

  •  Take prescribed medication for vomiting.
  • Some medications may be taken at regular times before and after chemotherapy.
  • Other medications may be used as needed, if the regular medications are not enough, or in the days after finishing the regular medications as directed.
  •  You may want to change your eating times and quantity.
  • Try methods suggested above for nausea.
  • Tell your doctor or nurse on your next visit if your medication did not work. You may need different medications to prevent nausea and vomiting.
  • A suppository may sometimes be used if you can’t keep pills down.
  • Take prescribed medication for vomiting.
  • Phone your doctor as soon as possible if you have vomited several times a day and it has lasted more than 24 hours.
  • If you can’t take pills, a suppository may help.
  • Try to drink plenty of clear fluids if you are able to.
  • Slowly begin eating again when you feel you are able to keep food down.
  • If you can’t keep food or fluids down and feel weak, you should phone your doctor.


Prepared by the Hamilton Regional Cancer Centre- Patient Education Committee, in cooperation with the staff and patients at HRCC and other Cancer Centres; Revised by the Cancer Care Ontario-Professional Pharmacy Advisory Committee- Medication Information Sheets Working Group. Any comments about the contents of this sheet, please email Revised: May, 2005