Sickness and vomiting
Sickness and vomiting treatmemt
There are different types of drugs that can help treat sickness and vomiting. You may hear these called anti-emetics.
Anti-sickness drugs can be taken in different ways:
- as tablets
- as injections
- as skin patches
- as a suppository – a small pill pushed gently into your back passage.
Your doctor will discuss appropriate treatments with you from a range which includes:
These are mainly used along with steroids. After chemotherapy, cells in your gut may release a chemical called serotonin (5HT). This sends a message to the brain, triggering your vomiting centre. By blocking serotonin, 5HT3 inhibitors can stop you feeling sick.
Steroids such as dexamethasone are used alongside other anti-sickness drugs to control sickness and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
These work by blocking messenger chemicals in the body that make you feel sick. They are usually given with steroids and a 5HT3 inhibitor to control sickness and vomiting after chemotherapy.
These drugs ease sickness by blocking a chemical messenger called dopamine, which can trigger sickness.
These have an effect on the vomiting centre in the brain. Chlorpromazine is sometimes given to people with advanced cancer when other anti-sickness drugs haven’t worked.
You may be more familiar with these drugs being used to control allergies, but they can also be used to treat sickness and vomiting.
These are drugs that make you feel calm and sleepy, and are often used for people with advanced cancer. They can be taken as tablets or given through a small portable syringe pump (called a syringe driver) if someone has problems swallowing.
These are sometimes used along with other anti-sickness drugs. As they help to control anxiety, they can also relieve sickness and vomiting that happens before treatment.
What to do if you are worried
If you have any questions or concerns about feeling sick, vomiting, or about your anti-sickness medication, talk to your healthcare team. Or contact our Support Service to talk through what you're experiencing and what you might say to your team.
Some anti-sickness drugs can themselves cause side effects, and as everyone is different, you may sometimes have to try more than one anti-sickness drug before you find one that works for you. Your healthcare team will help you bring the sickness under control.
If you’re feeling very sick or are worried about your vomiting, contact your healthcare team straight away. Or, in an emergency, call 999.