Vomiting and pancreatic cancer
Vomiting can occur as a result of the cancer or its treatment. For some people, just the thought of treatment or eating or the smell of food can make them feel unwell. There is a range of anti-nausea medicines that you can take regularly to control symptoms. If the one you are prescribed doesn’t work, let your doctor or nurse know so you can try another medicine.
Let your doctor know if vomiting lasts for more than a day or if you can’t keep any fluids down, as you may become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include a dry mouth, dark urine, dizziness and confusion.
If you have persistent vomiting, the duodenum (the first part of the small bowel) may be blocked, so it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible. You may need surgery to clear the blockage.
Steps to recovery after vomiting
1. Take small sips
Don’t try to force food down. Sip small amounts of liquid as often as possible. Try flat dry ginger ale, cold flat lemonade, weak cordial, or cold apple or orange juice.
2. Introduce nourishing fluids
If the vomiting has stopped but you still feel sick, sip small amounts of drinks slowly and often. Start with cold or iced drinks. Prepare milk or fruit drinks with some water so they are not too strong. You can also try diluted fluids such as clear broth or weak tea.
3. Start solid food
Next, try to eat small amounts of solid foods, such as plain dry biscuits, toast or bread with honey or jam. Stewed fruits and yoghurt are also good. Aim to eat small amounts of food often, rather than three large meals a day.
4. Return to normal diet
As soon as you can, increase your food intake until you are eating a normal, balanced diet. Limit rich foods, such as fatty meats or full-cream dairy products. Your doctor or dietitian may suggest extra nourishment (such as supplements) on your good days to make up for the days you can’t eat properly.
Dr Lorraine Chantrill, Head of Department, Medical Oncology, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, NSW; Marion Bamblett, Nurse Unit Manager, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Prof Katherine Clark, Clinical Director of Palliative Care, Northern Sydney Local Health District Cancer and Palliative Care Network, and Conjoint Professor, Northern Clinical School, The University of Sydney, NSW; Lynda Dunstone, Consumer; Kate Graham, Accredited Practising Dietitian – Upper GI Dietitian, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Gina Hesselberg, Radiation Oncologist, St George Hospital Cancer Centre, NSW; Dr Marni Nenke, Endocrinologist and Mary Overton Early Career Research Fellow, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; A/Prof Nicholas O’Rourke, Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital and The University of Queensland, QLD; Rose Rocca, Senior Clinical Dietitian – Upper GI, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Gail Smith, Consumer. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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