Other ways of controlling sickness
Along with anti sickness medication, there are other ways to control sickness and make you feel more comfortable.
Anti sickness drugs are the best way to control sickness (nausea and vomiting). But some complementary therapies might also help.
Some people find that relaxation techniques such as visualisation help. Others have found hypnotherapy and acupuncture helpful, especially in controlling anticipatory nausea and vomiting.
You might find ginger helpful when feeling sick. People say it is particularly good for motion sickness. You can use crystallised stem ginger. Or you can add freshly ground ginger to your favourite dishes, or to hot water or tea to make a soothing drink.
You can also try sipping ginger ale. Fizzy drinks sometimes help to reduce nausea too.
Researchers have been looking at using ginger alongside anti sickness medicines during chemotherapy. But the results so far have been mixed and more research is needed.
Some people find that peppermint helps with sickness. It is thought that it helps to slow down the gut. You can suck on mints, or drink peppermint tea.
Anti sickness bracelets
Some people wear stretchy bracelets on their wrists to help stop them feeling sick. These are called acupressure bracelets or Seabands.
The bracelet includes a hard plastic stud that you position in the middle of the inside of your wrist. The aim is that the acupressure point there helps to control sickness. It might help calm the vomiting centre of the brain and reduce nausea.
Seabands can be particularly useful for motion sickness.
Research has looked at how well they help to control sickness caused by chemotherapy. Some studies suggest that they can help when used alongside anti sickness drugs. But we need more research to confirm this.
You can make some changes in your diet that might help relieve your sickness.
What to avoid
It might help to avoid:
- eating or preparing food when you feel sick
- fried foods, fatty foods or foods with a strong smell
- brushing your teeth just after eating
- filling your stomach with a large amount of liquid before eating
- too much activity straight after eating
- mixing hot and cold foods
Changing what you eat might help you feel better. You could try eating:
- cold or slightly warm food if the smell of cooked or cooking food makes you feel sick
- several small meals and snacks each day
- light, bland foods, such as plain toast or crackers
- small meals a few hours before treatment (but not just before)
- more fibre, raw fruits and vegetables if you have constipation
- fresh or tinned pineapple chunks which helps to keep your mouth fresh and moist
It's important to try to drink plenty to replace the fluid you've lost, even if you can't eat. Have small sips slowly throughout the day. Try drinking:
- clear, sweet liquids, like fizzy drinks or fruit juice (except orange or grapefruit juice, which may irritate your stomach)
- ice cold or clear fluids
- prune juice and hot drinks, they might help to make your bowels work if you are constipated
Cannabis is also called marijuana, pot, grass, weed, hemp, hashish or dope. Parts of the plant have been used for centuries in herbal remedies.
In the past few years cannabis has been the subject of a lot of medical research and in the media. Possessing any part of the cannabis plant is still illegal in most European countries, including the UK.
Because it is illegal, there is a lot of controversy over using it for medical reasons. Some studies have found that smoking cannabis or taking it by mouth can help to control sickness and pain in people with cancer and other illnesses. But there are concerns about possible harmful side effects, particularly if the drug is smoked.
The strongest active ingredient in cannabis is the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the basis of the man made drug nabilone. You might have nabilone for sickness caused by chemotherapy when other anti sickness drugs have not helped.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) has been shown in some studies to help the effect of anti sickness drugs. Researchers are interested in ways that TENS could be used to help people with sickness from cancer or from treatment.
How to cope emotionally
It is understandable to be upset and worried when you are feeling sick.
Don't give yourself a hard time if you really don't feel like eating for a few days after chemotherapy. It is very important that you drink, but you can make up for lost calories between treatments. Try not to get overtired because you could find everything more difficult to cope with if you are exhausted.
You can also ask your doctor to prescribe nutritional drinks that you can have as well as regular meals if you are worried about losing weight.