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What is the nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are symptoms of an underlying disease and not a specific illness. Nausea is the sensation that the stomach wants to empty itself, while vomiting (emesis) or throwing up, is the act of forcible emptying of the stomach.

Vomiting is a violent act in which the stomach has to overcome the pressures that are normally in place to keep food and secretions within the stomach. The stomach almost turns itself inside out - forcing itself into the lower portion of the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach) during a vomiting episode.

What problems can nausea and vomiting cause?

Nausea and vomiting are 2 of the most dreaded, unpleasant side effects of cancer treatment, but they only rarely become life-threatening. Repeated vomiting can lead to dehydration, which is a lack of fluid and minerals your body needs. Dehydration can lessen the appetite,even more and if it continues, it can become a serious problem very quickly. Be sure to let your cancer team know right away if you can't keep fluids down, if you can't take the medicines you need, or if your vomiting lasts 24 hours or longer.

Vomiting can also cause tiredness (fatigue), trouble concentrating, slow wound healing, weight loss, and loss of appetite. It can interfere with your ability to take care of yourself and may lead to changes in your treatment plan. When nausea and vomiting are severe or long-lasting, and interfere with your normal daily activities, the outcomes are even worse.

What do I need to know about nausea and vomiting?

  • Ask your doctor or a member of your health care team these questions:

  • Is my cancer treatment likely to cause nausea and vomiting?
  • Are there treatments to prevent or control my nausea and vomiting?
  • How will you decide which anti-nausea/vomiting treatments I should use?
  • Are there side effects to the anti-nausea/vomiting treatments you want me to use?
  • When and how often should I take each medicine?
  • What else can be done if the treatment does not control my nausea and vomiting?

Ask your doctor when you should call. For example, many doctors want you to call them if you are vomiting or if you can't keep down fluids or medicines. Some doctors may ask that you weigh yourself each day to quickly spot rapid weight loss that is due to dehydration. Find out if there are other situations that may require your doctor's help right away. And be sure you know how to reach your cancer team on weekends or at night if these problems happen.

What is the difference between nausea and vomiting?

Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often accompanies the urge to vomit, but doesn't always lead to vomiting. Vomiting is the forcible voluntary or involuntary emptying ("throwing up") of stomach contents through the mouth. Some triggers that may result in vomiting can come from the stomach and intestines (infection, injury, and food irritation), the inner ear (dizziness and motion sickness), and the brain (head injury, brain infections, tumors, and migraine headaches).


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