One of the more common side effects from Taxotere (chemotherapy) is nausea. People often refer to this side effect as retching, stomach ache, throwing up, queasy, heart burn, motion sickness, dry heave, puke, and feeling sick to my stomach. However, not everyone experiences nausea.
There are many drugs (these medications are called anti-nausea drugs or anti-emetics) that can be prescribed by your doctor to prevent, lessen, or relieve the nausea and vomiting which can be associated with chemotherapy (taxotere). The methods of delivering these drugs to you can also be varied depending upon your physical state. If you are unable to keep anything down there are drugs can be given through an I.V. catheter, a patch, rectally, under the tongue, or even in a shot if you cannot swallow.
Besides taking these drugs there are several things that can be done to ameliorate these symptoms.
* Drink fluids throughout the day like water and juices. If you are vomiting it is important to replace the fluids lost to avoid getting dehydrated.
* Avoid drinking liquids at meals.
* Eat small amounts of food throughout the day as opposed to heavy meals.
* Don’t let yourself get to hungry before you eat.
* First thing in the morning limit your foods to dry items such as dry cereal, toast, or crackers without adding liquids.
* Avoid heavy, high fat and greasy meals especially before you have your infusion.
* Do avoid your favorite foods during this period. If you don’t they will no longer be favorite foods if you begin to associate them with nausea and vomiting episodes.
* Avoid any environment that has any strong odors
* Don’t lay flat for at least two hours after eating.
* Fresh air and loose clothing may be helpful after eating.
* Avoid Exercising after eating, it may slow down digestion and increase your discomfort.
* Relax and try to keep your mind off the chemotherapy. Bring soothing music, relaxation tapes, or CD’s, with you to the chemo session. Many people bring a movie to watch and/or a friend or family member to keep you company. Of you can, take a nap during the session.
Other ways to minimize chemotherapy nausea:
* If you are vomiting, stop eating. Once you stop vomiting, start back on food slowly. Start with small amounts of clear liquids, such as broth, tea (decaffeinated), juice, soda (decaffeinated), sports drinks (decaffeinated), or water. Then, advance to light, mild foods like jello, bananas, pudding and toast.
* Avoid caffeine and smoking.
* Suck on hard candy, popsicles, or ice during chemotherapy. Most infusion centers have these in stock and available just for the asking.
* Take the medications for nausea and vomiting as prescribed by your doctor. If you are running low, don’t forget to ask for a refill.
* Let the infusion staff or your doctor know if you feel nauseated during the chemotherapy session.
* Try acupuncture, many people do report relief after just a few sessions.
There are many different medications (anti-nausea drugs or anti-emetics ) that your doctor can prescribe to control these nausea and vomiting. It may take trying a couple different medications before finding the right drug that will provide you with relief, don’t give up.
It is important to remember that nausea and vomiting can also be caused by medical conditions unrelated to chemotherapy. Therefore, it is important to call your doctor if:
* You continue to suffer from chemotherapy-based nausea and vomiting despite taking your anti-nausea medications.
* Nausea that interferes with your ability to eat.
* Vomiting 4-5 times in a 24 hour period.
* Feel bloated.
* Have pain or a swollen stomach before nausea and vomiting occurs.
* If you are bothered by side effects from the anti-nausea medications.
For a more specific recommendation about foods that can help combat your nausea read my prior post on, Foods To Eat which was posted in Feburary of 2009.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW
he following response to this post has appeared on other listservs:
Marajuana, the real thing not the pill. My husband could not keep anything down. Merely sitting at the table with food on it made him nauseous. His dr. prescribed Marinol, which contains marajuana. It was completely useless.
My son-in-law at the time offered to go out and find him the real thing on the street. Because it was illegal and not wanting him to break the law, I said no. Today, if I only had the chance for a ‘do-over’, I would get it for him myself. He deserved being comfortable in his last months. One of life’s little regrets.
Have this in my file from a couple years ago provided by Frank Kennedy:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A synthetic version of the active ingredient in marijuana, a legal treatment for nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, also helps symptoms like pain, anxiety and depression, according to research presented on Friday.
“The findings show how great the potential is to improve the quality of life for cancer patients,” said lead investigator Dr. Vincent Maida of the University of Toronto.
The 139-patient study involved a drug called nabilone, sold under the brand name Cesamet by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International. It has been available in Canada for years, and was approved in May by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional anti-nausea treatments.
The drug is part of a class known as cannabinoids that are similar to the active ingredient found in naturally occurring cannabis, or marijuana.
But Cesamet, as with similar drugs such as Solvay SA’s Marinol, is designed to target specific cannabinoid receptors and does not carry the toxic effects associated with smoking marijuana, Maida said.
“This is not the pot pill,” he said. “It has absolutely no street value.”
That contrasts with morphine-based pain drugs, such as OxyContin, that are associated with addiction and abuse, the investigator said.
The study, based on questionnaires filled out by cancer patients, found that those treated with the drug experienced significantly more pain reduction than patients treated with standard therapy. Scores for drowsiness, tiredness, appetite and well-being were stable in the Cesamet group, but deteriorated in the non-Cesamet group.
Depression and anxiety were also reduced significantly in the nabilone group, but increased in the non-cannabinoid group, according to the study, which was presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
“There are no other drugs that are as broad-spectrum as cannabinoids. By using them, we can reduce the use of other drugs which are riskier, burdensome and expensive,” Maida said.
Side effects of Cesamet include drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth and euphoria.
But Valeant’s sales of the drug totaled just $7.3 million in the first half of this year.
“The issue is the stigma,” Maida said. “There is some timidity on the part of practitioners to prescribe these drugs.”
“il faut d’abord durer.” Hemingway