Effects on your digestive system

Nausea and Vomiting(feeling sick and being sick)

Not all drugs cause nausea and vomiting and many people do not experience it at all. If you are affected, it may begin within a few minutes of the treatment or not until several hours later, depending on the drugs given. It may last from several hours to a few days. We will give you a supply of anti-emetic (anti-sickness) drugs to take home and the nurse will explain the best way for you to take them. If they do not work effectively for you talk to your nurse or doctor. Other anti-emetic drugs may help you.

You can help yourself in the following ways:

  • take your anti-emetics regularly as prescribed especially during the first few days. Do not wait until you feel sick
  • chilled fizzy drinks such as Coca-Cola and lemonade can help settle your stomach. Sip them through a straw so that you do not feel "bloated"
  • if you are vomiting try to drink at least 8 cups fluid per day
  • try to drink between meals rather than during meals
  • eat room temperature foods for example sandwiches and salads or cheese and crackers
  • eat small frequent meals
  • ginger is a natural anti-emetic and you can take it in the form of ginger biscuits, ginger beer, ginger tea, ginger cake, or crystallised pieces of ginger
  • eat a dry cracker, biscuit or some toast and relax for 15 minutes before you get out of bed
  • avoid fresh citrus fruit drinks, full fat milk and alcohol
  • avoid very sweet, spicy or greasy foods
  • avoid preparing foods when you feel sick
  • try and get plenty of fresh air
  • some people find that relaxation techniques and acupuncture pressure bands help to reduce nausea
  • if you have experienced nausea and vomiting in the past, think about what helped and try it
  • if you are not keeping anything down, please call the hospital

Diarrhoea(loose bowels)

Some chemotherapy can cause diarrhoea, which will usually settle within 24-hours.
You can help yourself by:

  • drinking at least 10 cups of fluid per day until it settles

If you continue to have more than three episodes of diarrhoea per day or for more than 24 hours, contact the triage service on 0800 169 5555 (don’t forget to tell them about your chemotherapy).

If you are concerned, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you are receiving Irinotecan chemotherapy, please follow the advice sheet that the nurse gave you if you experience any diarrhoea at all.

If you are taking Capecitabine tablets, stop doing so and contact the hospital.

Constipation (stubborn bowels)

Some drugs may cause constipation.
You can help yourself in the following ways:

  • try and increase your exercise
  • drink at least 10 cups of fluid per day. Pure orange juice may help
  • eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • try high fibre cereals such as Branflakes, All Bran, Shredded Wheat and porridge
  • use wholemeal bread

If you become uncomfortable please contact the chemotherapy triage on 0800 169 5555.

If you have experienced constipation in the past, think about what helped you then and try it.