Keeping well: nausea and vomiting

What are nausea and vomiting?

Nausea is the unpleasant sensation of feeling sick. Vomiting is the mechanical action of being sick. They are very common in people who are seriously ill.

What causes them?

  • the illness itself
  • the cancer treatment
  • other medications, e.g. painkillers
  • constipation or
  • emotional distress.

What carers can do

  • Make sure anti-sickness medications are taken.
  • Monitor the severity of the problem and report it to your St Christopher’s nurse.
  • Keep the room cool – a fan may help.
  • A cool flannel on the forehead may soothe.
  • Give small sips of fluid or ice cubes to suck.
  • Avoid giving acidic foods and fluids.
  • Ensure regular laxatives if necessary.

When to call for help

Persistent vomiting may mean that drugs need to be given by an alternative route (e.g. suppositories or medication via a syringe driver – see page 27 about syringe drivers). These need to be organised by a nurse or doctor.

Persistent nausea and vomiting are very unpleasant. If you are concerned, ring your St Christopher’s nurse.