Coping with nausea

Nausea and vomiting are side effects of certain anti-cancer treatments. They may also be due to the illness itself. 

Ill health, admission to hospital or regular visits for treatment may cause anxiety. This can also affect how much nausea you feel and how you cope with it.

People react differently to treatment, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Some have very few problems, but if nausea or vomiting does occur, it can be unpleasant. Advances in medicine are making these symptoms increasingly treatable. There are also other ways to reduce or prevent these side effects.

What is nausea?

Most people describe nausea as feeling queasy, sick or bilious. Sometimes we feel nauseous for a while after eating a rich meal, for example. This feeling gradually goes away as our food is digested.

Nausea may be followed by vomiting and, even when vomiting has stopped, the nausea may still be there. Often it is more difficult to stop someone feeling sick than to stop them being sick.

What is vomiting?

Vomiting is the forceful emptying of the stomach through the mouth to protect us from harmful substances taken into our bodies. An example of this is an attack of food poisoning caused by 'foreign' bacteria when food hasn't been stored or cooked properly. Retching or 'vomiting on an empty stomach' may also occur before, after or separately from vomiting. No one knows why this happens.