Nausea is a subjective unpleasant feeling in the back of your throat and stomach that may lead to vomiting. There are many words that describe nausea including sick to my stomach, queasy, or upset stomach. Nausea can have other symptoms that happen at the same time, such as increased saliva (spit), dizziness, light-headedness, trouble swallowing, skin temperature changes, and a fast heart rate.
Vomiting is also described as “throwing up.” When you vomit, your stomach muscles contract (squeeze) and push the contents of your stomach out through your mouth. You might or might not feel nauseated.
Nausea and/or vomiting in the person with cancer can be caused by many different things, such as:
Doctors think that vomiting is most likely controlled by the part of the brain called the vomiting center. Less is known about how nausea occurs. When you are given chemo, 2 things happen:
Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely to cause nausea and vomiting than other others. Doctors classify chemo drugs according to their emetogenic potential (how likely the drug will cause nausea or vomiting) as high, moderate, low, or minimal risk. Drugs are used to help control and even prevent nausea and vomiting depending on this risk.
Drugs used to control these side effects are called anti-nausea/vomiting drugs. You may also hear them called anti-emetics. Every person with cancer who’s getting treatments that cause nausea or vomiting can, and should, get medicines to keep this from happening.