Nausea and vomiting

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The effects of anticancer drugs vary from person to person and dose to dose. A drug that makes one child violently ill often has no effect on other children. Some drugs produce no nausea until several doses have been given, while others cause nausea after a single dose. Because the effects of chemotherapy are so wildly variable, each childs treatment must be tailored to her individual needs. There is no relationship between the amount of nausea and the effectiveness of the medicine.

The following is a list of suggestions for helping children and teenagers cope with nausea and vomiting.

• Give your child antiemetic (antinausea) medications as prescribed. Do not skip any doses.

• Ask your doctor to prescribe a drug that blocks gastric secretions, such as Pepcid or Zantac, to go along with the antinausea medication.

• Your child should wear loose clothing, because it is both more comfortable and easier to remove if soiled.

• Parents should try to have at least one change of clothes for their child in the car.

• Large zip lock plastic bags provide an easily used container if your child gets sick in the car. They can be sealed and disposed of quickly and neatly, ridding the car of unpleasant odors that could make your child's nausea worse.

• Carry a bucket, towels, and baby wipes in the car in case of vomiting.

• Try to keep your child in a quiet, well-ventilated room after chemotherapy.

• Smells can trigger nausea. Try not to cook in the house when your child feels ill. If possible, open windows to provide plenty of fresh air.

• If your child is nauseated by smells, use a covered cup with a straw for liquids.

• Do not serve hot foods, as the odor can aggravate nausea.

• Serve dry foods such as toast, pretzels, or crackers in the morning or whenever the child is feeling nauseated.

• Serve several small meals rather than three large ones.

• Have your child keep his head elevated after eating. Lying flat can induce nausea.

• Provide plenty of clear liquids such as water, juice, Gatorade, or ginger ale.

• Avoid giving sweet, fried, or very spicy food. Instead, serve bland foods such as potatoes, cottage cheese, soup, or toast.

• Watch for any signs of dehydration. These include dry skin and mouth, sunken eyes, dizziness, and decreased urination. Call the physician if your child appears dehydrated.

• Use distractions such as TV, videos, music, games, or reading aloud to divert attention from nausea.

• After your child vomits, rinsing his mouth with water or a mixture of water and lemon juice helps to remove the taste.

• If your child develops a metallic taste in her mouth, chewing gum or sucking on popsicles may help.

Meagan has always had problems in every phase of treatment with stomachaches, especially in the morning. She will often vomit once and then be over it. She is frequently soothed with just rubbing her tummy or laying a hot towel on it.

If the various antinausea medications do not work well for your child, investigate the FDA-approved Relief Band. This wrist band gives an electrical stimulation (too faint to feel) to an acupuncture point in the wrist that affects the portion of the brain that controls nausea. Information about the band is available toll-free at (888) 297-9728 and online at

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