Nausea is controlled by a part of the central nervous system that controls involuntary bodily functions. Vomiting is a reflex controlled by a vomiting center in the brain. Vomiting can be stimulated by various triggers, such as smell, taste, anxiety, pain, motion, poor blood flow, irritation, or changes in the body caused by inflammation.
The most common causes of nausea and vomiting are:
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Anticipatory nausea and vomiting occur after the patient has undergone several cancer treatments. It occurs in response to triggers, such as odors in the therapy room. For example, a person who begins chemotherapy and smells an alcohol swab at the same time, may later experience nausea and vomiting at the smell of alcohol alone. Patients usually do not experience nausea and/or vomiting before or during chemotherapy until after they have received several courses of treatment. The following factors may help predict which patients are more likely to experience anticipatory nausea and vomiting:
Being younger than 50 years.
The severity of nausea and vomiting after the last chemotherapy session.
Feeling warm or hot after the last chemotherapy session.
A history of motion sickness.
Feeling dizzy or lightheaded after chemotherapy.
Sweating after the last chemotherapy session.
Experiencing weakness after the last chemotherapy session.
Having a high level of anxiety.
The type of chemotherapy (some are more likely to cause nausea and vomiting).
Chemotherapy is the most common treatment-related cause of nausea and vomiting. The drug, dose, schedule of administration, route, and factors that are unique to the patient all determine how often nausea occurs and how severe it will be. Usually, these symptoms can be prevented or controlled.
Acute nausea and vomiting are more likely to occur in patients who:
Have experienced nausea and vomiting after previous chemotherapy sessions.
Drink little or no alcohol.
Delayed Nausea and Vomiting
Delayed nausea and vomiting occurs more than 24 hours after chemotherapy. It is more likely to occur in patients who:
Are receiving high-dose chemotherapyregimens.
Have experienced acute nausea and vomiting with chemotherapy.
Drink little or no alcohol.
Drugs to prevent nausea and vomiting may be given alone or in combinations to patients who are receiving chemotherapy.