Vomiting is never something you look forward to, but for some survivors, it is a regular part of their treatment schedule. In some cases, you can reduce your risk of vomiting by changing up your treatment regime.
ASCO recommends the following options, based on the level of risk that a specific type of radiation therapy will cause nausea and vomiting:
- Radiation therapy directed at the entire body nearly always causes nausea and vomiting without antiemetics. To prevent vomiting, patients usually receive a combination of 2 drugs:
- A 5-HT3 receptor antagonist
- Those with a medium risk of vomiting- Patients usually receive a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist. This is sometimes combined with dexamethasone.
- Those with a low risk of vomiting- Patients receiving radiation therapy that is less likely to cause nausea and vomiting may receive antiemetics after treatment if they feel nauseous or vomit.
- For those who received radiation therapy to the brain, dexamethasone is generally used if nausea or vomiting develops.
- For those who received radiation therapy to the head and neck, chest, or pelvis, a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, dexamethasone, or a dopamine receptor antagonist are options if nausea or vomiting develops.
- For those with a minimal risk of vomiting – Patients usually receive an 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, dexamethasone, or a dopamine receptor antagonist if nausea or vomiting develops
Patients receiving radiation therapy along with chemotherapy or targeted therapy usually also receive the antiemetics recommended for chemotherapy or targeted therapy, unless they are receiving radiation therapy with a higher risk of nausea and vomiting.
Learn more about ASCO’s guidelines on preventing nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy or radiation therapy with medicine.
When you vomit before treatment
If you already felt nauseated or vomited after treatment, you might also start feeling sick before treatment. Tell your doctor if you have felt sick after treatment before. They might be able to lower the chance you will get sick again, before or after treatment. You might take anti-nausea medicine or do other things to prevent vomiting.
Other ways to cope with nausea and vomiting
Some ways to help relieve nausea and vomiting do not use medicines. They include:
- Distraction – distracting yourself from your feelings of nausea or wanting to vomit can allow you to do the things you enjoy all while helping you feel less ill.
- Relaxation- things like meditation and breathing excersise are known to calm the mind and body, and so reduce you urge to vomit.
- Guided imagery -Focusing your mind on a positive picture, scene, or idea can ease the effects of vomiting
Some herbal products might help nausea, such as ginger. If your doctor prescribes anti-nausea medicines, do not stop taking them or use something else without asking your doctor.