Nausea and vomiting

If you are having chemotherapy, you will be given anti-nausea medicine with your treatment and to take at home afterwards. In many cases, this will prevent severe nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting, but some people do still feel sick and may vomit. Radiation therapy, other medicines and the cancer itself can also cause nausea and vomiting.

Nausea and vomiting can also be triggered by stress, food odours, gas in the stomach or bowel, motion sickness or even the thought of having treatment. After a person has had a few treatments, they may connect certain sights, sounds or smells with treatment and feel nauseated when they experience them. This is known as anticipatory nausea or vomiting, and it is more common in people receiving chemotherapy.

How to cope with nausea and vomiting

Learn how to cope with:


  • Take anti-nausea medicines as prescribed, paying special attention to the timing (e.g. if your prescription says to take before food). Let the doctor know if the medicines don’t seem to be working, as they can offer you a different one to try.
  • Have a light snack before chemotherapy, and wait a few hours before eating again.
  • Eat small meals frequently (every 2–3 hours) during the day. Going without food for long periods can make nausea worse.
  • Snack on dry or bland foods, e.g. crackers, toast, dry cereals, bread sticks or pretzels. Go here for more snack ideas.
  • Choose cold food or food at room temperature instead of hot, fried, greasy or spicy foods.
  • Eat and drink slowly, and chew your food well.
  • Try drinks and foods with ginger, e.g. non-alcoholic ginger beer, ginger biscuits.
  • Avoid foods that are overly sweet, fatty, fried, spicy or oily, or that have strong smells.
  • Brush teeth regularly and rinse mouth to help reduce unpleasant tastes that may make you feel nauseated.
  • Don’t eat your favourite food when feeling nauseated; otherwise, you may develop a permanent dislike.



  • Sip small amounts of fluids as often as possible. Try dry ginger ale, cold flat lemonade, soda water, Lucozade, sports drinks or chilled tomato juice.
  • Try sucking on a hard lolly, crushed ice cubes or an iceblock – this can be soothing.
  • See your doctor if you are unable to keep fluids down, or if vomiting lasts for more than 24 hours, as there is a danger that you may become dehydrated.
  • Introduce drinks slowly once the vomiting has stopped, e.g. clear, cool drinks; diluted fruit drinks; Bonox/Bovril (beef extract rich in iron, minerals and vitamins); clear broth; and weak tea.
  • Start eating small amounts of plain foods once vomiting is under control, e.g. dry biscuits; pretzels; toast or bread; jelly; cooked cereals (such as lemon sago or boiled rice); and soft stewed fruits (such as apples, pears or peaches).
  • Introduce milk gradually and in small amounts, or have yoghurt, which is more easily digested.
  • Gradually increase your food intake until your eating returns to what is normal for you. Your doctor or dietitian may advise you to take a nutritional supplement on your good days to make up for the days when you can’t eat properly.

For more on this, listen to our podcast on Appetite Loss and Nausea.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF fact sheet on taste and smell changes.

    Taste and smell changes

  • 66 kB

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit:


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit:

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit:

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in June 2019
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Exercise and cancer
Exercise has many benefits both during and after cancer treatment, helping with side effects, speeding up recovery, and improving quality of life

Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment

Cancer information

Relaxation and meditation
Learn how relaxation and mediation can help you both during and after cancer treatment, or listen to our relaxation and meditation audio tracks

Cancer treatment
Learn about the different treatments that are used to treat cancer, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy