Help with Fatigue and Nausea
Last updated: March 2020
Fatigue and nausea. Once we have been diagnosed and begin treatment, those two words seem to attach to our brains like a magnet. Stomach upsets, actual nausea, vomiting, always tired, tire easily when you go out, and the list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, these are probably your new "normal" as a cancer patient. The good news is that your physician can give you a prescription to help with your nausea and stomach issues. Please be sure to mention to your healthcare team if you experience nausea and especially vomiting. You don't want to get dehydrated and this can happen very easily. When you are nauseous, the last thing you want to do is drink, but water is a necessity. A minimum of 6 (8 oz) glasses of water a day is recommended for healthy people. Try to reach or exceed this amount each day.
But there are things you can do that can eliminate some of your fatigue.
Getting Your Nutrients
Number one is eating right - eating nutritious meals. This, to me, is the hardest because when I am nauseous, the last thing I want to do is eat. Possibly have a protein drink such as Ensure or Boost. Make sure each day you allow time to rest. You don't necessarily need to sleep but resting is a must.
As you are going through treatment, keep in mind, many cancer treatments can affect your blood levels. Anemia can be your worst nightmare. Of course, your physician will track your bloodwork as you continue treatment but it may be something you want to discuss.
Scheduling Time to Rest
Plan your day, if possible, hour by hour. Make sure you include rest time. Weather will most certainly affect how you feel. If it is very hot, try to limit tasks outside to very short bursts of time. Then go indoors and consume water. Again, you want to replenish what you just "sweated" out. The same goes for hot showers or baths. These will work against your energy level. As we know, most people think of a long relaxing bath to end the day. If you always take a hot bath in the morning, you have just set yourself up to remain fatigued all day. I found this out the hard way.
Exercising for More Energy
Did you know that exercise helps with fatigue? This was the hardest concept for me to grasp. My CNP recommended that I take a low impact exercise class three days a week. In my head, I couldn't imagine, if I was too tired to move around, how in the world was exercise going help? How would I make it through? Well, the answer was, as she said - exercise. I enrolled in a class at the local YMCA. It was very low impact. I was exhausted my first day. As a matter of fact, I came home and took a 3-hour nap. The next class was not quite so bad. I only had to have a 2-hour nap afterwards. By the second week, I was amazed that my energy level had increased and I wasn't taking as many naps a day. I didn't need to stop and rest as much.
Don't get me wrong, I have only one lung as a result of lung cancer so I always feel the need to rest, but the exercise class helped me the most.
And finally, don't be ashamed to ask for help. YOU are not healthy right now. You need the assistance. Family and friends are usually looking for ways to help and this can be their chance.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.
What healthy habits do you use to improve the quality of your life?