Eating and drinking

It can be very difficult to eat or drink if you are suffering from nausea.

Drinking

Concentrate on sipping fluids and stopping yourself from getting dehydrated. Don't force yourself to eat when you're feeling sick. It's more important to drink plenty of liquid than to have three meals a day.

Try sipping clear, cold fluids, such as water and soft drinks, slowly through a straw. Fizzy drinks like soda water and ginger ale are quite refreshing. Lemon, peppermint or ginger teas have a pleasant taste and are also refreshing. The last two may also help to relieve nausea. It may help to avoid coffee, which has a strong taste and may also make you thirstier. Avoid alcohol as this can cause dehydration.

You may find sucking ice cubes helps to freshen your mouth. These can be flavoured with cordials and fruit juice. Crushed ice may also make a drink more enjoyable. Some people find sucking lemon-flavoured sweets or mints reduce nausea.

If you are finding it difficult to drink or keep fluids down contact your doctor or nurse for further advice.

If you have been vomiting, don't eat or drink for a short while and then start sipping clear liquids slowly. Gradually increase the amount you drink. Sucking antacid tablets may prevent the acidic burning sensation that follows vomiting.

Eating

If you're feeling sick, you may find it helps to take a short walk before a meal and to eat in a room with good ventilation. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Remember to take your anti-emetics before food or as instructed by the pharmacist and doctor.

Many people find that cold foods and food served at room temperature are best. These foods tend not to smell strongly and are less likely to trigger feelings of nausea. Try foods such as sandwiches, salads, biscuits, yoghurts, cold custard, crème caramel, fruit and fruit salad. For some patients greasy, spicy or foods with a strong odour can make their nausea worse.

You may need to change your meal times and have small, frequent meals or snacks of whatever you fancy. Try to avoid drinking large quantities of fluids just before a meal. Eat slowly and chew your food well. After a meal, relax in a sitting or slightly reclined position, instead of lying down. If you tend to feel sick on the day of treatment, avoid eating a heavy meal for one or two hours before and after treatment.

When you feel nauseous, ask friends or relatives to help prepare and serve food.

How should I look after my mouth?

You should keep your mouth clean and healthy if you're feeling sick.

The following suggestions may help:

  • Drink as much liquid as you can, to keep your mouth moist and fresh
  • Use a mouthwash regularly, particularly after each episode of vomiting. A fluoride rinse will reduce acidity and the likelihood of tooth decay. Ask your doctor, nurse or oral hygienist to advise you in selecting a suitable mouthwash.
  • Clean your teeth regularly using fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush. If someone needs to clean your teeth for you, they may find a child's toothbrush easier to use.
  • Clean your dentures after meals as well as at night and after vomiting
  • Keep your lips moist by using a lip balm
  • Visit your dentist or hygienist regularly to have your teeth and gums checked