Side Effects of Chemotherapy


Feeling nauseous at different times during the day is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy. While some doctors will prescribe anti-nausea medication, you may want to try these tips as well:

  • Eat smaller meals during the day. This will allow your body to digest food slowly, which may not upset the digestive tract as much.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially around mealtimes, as this may help food to be digested more easily. Many cancer patients feel dehydrated during the day, which could cause diarrhea. Drinking enough water during the day will help you with other side effects of chemotherapy as well.
  • Try to avoid foods that you know will make you nauseous. Sometimes is it not the food, but the smell or the texture. Keep a food diary and avoid foods that are fatty or spicy.
  • When you are eating a meal, you should eat slowly and chew your food carefully so that it can travel through the body easily. This will also help your digestive tract function normally.
  • When you feel nauseous, try deep breathing exercises. This should relax your body and the nausea should pass. You should rest when you need to and try to find ways to distract yourself when you feel nauseous.

If you are experiencing throat soreness or mouth sores, you should talk to your doctor, who may be able to prescribe medication. Soreness in your throat or mouth may prohibit you from eating certain foods such as cereal, toast, or hard candies. Try to avoid foods that will irritate these areas.


If you are suffering from constipation, you may have to add more fiber to your diet, exercise when you can, and drink more fluids during the day. You should always ask your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen, especially if you recently had surgery to remove cancerous tumors.

Many times walking twenty-minutes a day will help reduce constipation and get your body moving again. Eating more foods that contain fiber including vegetables, fruits, breads, and nuts will help also. If some of these foods make you nauseous, ask your doctor for a list of foods that are high in fiber and choose some that do not cause nausea. Ask your doctor about fiber supplements also.

Avoiding cheese and eggs will also help end constipation.


Diarrhea is the opposite of constipation, so if you are experiencing diarrhea, you should avoid foods that contain high levels of fiber. Talk to your doctor to see if medications are available. If you experience diarrhea for more than two days, your doctor may put you on intravenous fluids in order to avoid dehydration.

Some of the ways to avoid diarrhea when on chemotherapy include:

  • Eat smaller meals during the day and spread them out instead of having three meals a day
  • Drink more water during the day to prevent dehydration.
  • Raise your potassium levels by eating foods such as bananas, potatoes, oranges, and peaches.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages.

A related side effect is mucositis.

Another possible side effect is hepatoxicity.

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