A very common side effect of any cancer treatment including chemotherapy (docetaxil for men with advanced prostate cancer) and radiation is nausea. In addition to feelings of nausea many men also experience a feeling of fullness, a change in the way foods taste and strong heartburn. If you have this experience let your doctor know and ask about taking anti-nausea medications to ease or prevent symptoms. In addition to medication there are also a number of things that you can do on your own to help yourself feel better.
To manage your nausea there are a number of steps you can follow to help you cope. You should try to:
• Rinse your mouth often with a mouth wash to eliminate any bad taste.
• Try distracting yourself with music, television, taking a walk or other activities you enjoy.
• Put on loose-fitting clothing so you don’t bind or add stress to your body.
• Don’t eat and ask your family not to bring strongly scented foods into the house
• Explore how your taste buds may have changed due to the therapy. Determine what foods taste good to and focus your diet
If you have just had a bout of nausea and vomiting you should try the following:
• An hour or so after vomiting, try taking small sips of fluids or sucking on ice chips.
• Try eating crackers or toast. These simple foods are good choices for putting something back into your stomach without causing you additional upset.
• Having someone stay with you can give you the gentle encouragement you need to relax, which also helps to settle your stomach.
• Again, find a way to distract yourself.
Increasing Your Appetite
When you are nauseas it is hard to maintain a nutritious diet, but doing so is important to your ability to recover. I suggest the following:
• Find ways to make the atmosphere more pleasant during mealtime. You can try to use colorful place settings, flowers, or background music. Have a picnic in a beautiful place. Garnish your food and make it look attractive.
• Invite friends and family members to share mealtime with you (and of course snack time too).
• Eat many smaller meals throughout the day rather than two or three big meals.
• Have snacks between meals; don’t worry about putting on weight.
• Establish a pattern of eating meals and snacks at the same time each day. Stick to this schedule, even when you are not hungry.
• Try and keep snacks handy. You will find that you will tend to eat more when food is readily available.
• At times when your appetite is not good serve yourself the foods you really like to eat.
• If you cannot eat enough food to maintain your weight, try high-calorie, high-protein drinks prescribed by your doctor or available in the supermarket (like Boost).
Maintaining your weight with a healthy diet is important to your ability to recover. Maybe this is a great time to indulge yourself with the foods you have been avoiding for so many years. Enjoy your diet
Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.