glass of lemon mint water
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Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Take small sips of cold water throughout the day. Work in some variety with clear fluids like ginger ale, tea, and sports drinks. Giving your body all the liquid it needs boosts your appetite. It can also ease side effects like constipation, dry mouth, mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue. But be careful with sugar. Sweet drinks make your nausea or diarrhea worse. If that happens, stick with water.

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man in pool
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Be Active

Get up and move as much as you can. Walk, swim, or take a yoga class. You can even do stretches and movements in bed or in a chair. A bit of light exercise can help you feel better overall. Check with your doctor first to find out what type of exercise is OK for you.

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Eat High-Calorie Foods

When you don’t feel well, it’s hard to eat enough. But your body needs calories to battle the cancer. Try several small meals throughout the day. And make sure they’re packed with nutrients. Pick foods high in protein and calories that are soft and easy to eat. Add butter, sauces, and syrups to bump up the calorie count and moisten foods that might be hard to eat and swallow. 

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woman washing hair
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Be Kind to Your Hair

You may not be able to prevent hair loss entirely, but taking great care of your hair and scalp will help. Use a gentle shampoo and wash your hair less often. Don’t rub your scalp too hard. Use a soft-bristle brush or a wide-tooth comb. Stay away from gels, hair dryers, and irons. If you think you’ll want a wig, pick one early so it’s easy to match it to your natural hair.

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woman drinking smoothie
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Drink Your Meals

Milkshakes, smoothies, protein shakes, and juices often go down easier than solid foods. They’re high in calories and you can add nutritious, tasty foods like fruit to them. Cold foods like shakes may be easier to handle when you’re queasy, when nothing tastes right, or if you’re sensitive to smells.

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woman fruit popsicle
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Try a Cold Treat

Frozen food is great when your mouth is sore, your throat’s dry, your tummy’s upset, or you’ve been throwing up. Suck on ice chips or frozen fruit juice chips. Ice pops can do the trick, too. They’ll keep your mouth moist, and they count as fluids.

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man blowing bubble gum
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Enjoy Sugar-Free Gum and Mints

You can suck on lemon drops, mints, gum, crystalized ginger, and even fennel or caraway seeds to ease nausea, dry mouth, and sensitivity to smells. Stay away from tart candies if you have mouth sores.

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fried eggrolls
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Skip Your Trigger Foods

Some things make your nausea or mouth sores worse than others. You’ll learn through trial and error which are best and worst for you. Common culprits include things that are fried, spicy, super sweet, extra salty, or hard and crunchy. 

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Try Acupuncture or Acupressure

These ancient practices can relieve an upset stomach, pain, and stress by changing the messages nerves send to your brain. Special wristbands that press on pressure points can help ease nausea. You can get them at your local pharmacy. If you try acupuncture, go to a licensed practitioner who uses sterile needles.

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guitar by ocean
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Find Your Happy Place

You really will feel better if you get a handle on stress and take your mind off how you feel. Lots of things will do the trick. You just have to find the right one for you. Try deep breathing, guided imagery, meditation, prayer, talking with friends, support group meetings, reading, or listening to music.

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Protect Your Skin

Be extra kind to your skin during treatment. Use mild soaps and shampoos. Take short, warm or cool showers or baths. Put on a moisturizer with no perfumes or dyes at least twice a day – ideally after you bathe while your skin is still damp. If you’re out in the sun, use sunscreen and lip balm and wear a hat to protect yourself. And keep your nails clipped short.

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man sleeping
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Sleep Well

It may seem like you’re resting all the time, but you may not be sleeping as much as you need or at the times you want. All the stress, worry, and meds can create a perfect storm that makes it hard to get your ZZZs. Set a regular bedtime and waking time. Keep your bedroom dark and cool. Turn off all electronics an hour before bedtime.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 02/08/2021 Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on February 08, 2021


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National Cancer Institute: “Appetite Loss,” “Constipation,” “Mouth and Throat Problems,” “Nausea and Vomiting,” “Urinary and Bladder Problems,” “Edema,” “Appetite Loss,” “Constipation,” “Fatigue,” “Memory or Concentration Problems,” “Diarrhea,” “Hair Loss (Alopecia),” “Mouth and Throat Problems,” “Skin and Nail Changes,” “Sleep Problems.”


American Cancer Society:“Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: Nausea and Vomiting,” “Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: Constipation,” “Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: Diarrhea,” “Managing Cancer-related Fatigue,” “Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: Sleep Problems,” “Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: Poor Appetite,” “Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: Weight Changes,” “Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: Hair Loss,” “Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: Mouth Dryness,” “Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: Anxiety, fear, and emotional distress,” “Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: Depression,” “Side effects of targeted cancer therapy drugs,” “Managing Cancer-related Fatigue.”


Mayo Clinic: “Diarrhea: Cancer-related causes and how to cope,” “Cancer: What to tell your doctor,” “Chemotherapy: How do doctors prevent nausea and vomiting?” “Cancer: Alternative medicine,” “Cancer: Chemotherapy,”


The Cancer Cure Foundation: “Dealing with the Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation.”

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on February 08, 2021

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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