Researchers at Mackay Base Hospital are taking part in an international study, examining whether the humble stick of chewing gum may be more effective than drugs in relieving post-surgery nausea.
Nausea or vomiting are common side effects for women who have had breast or laparoscopic surgery. A drug called ondansetron is often delivered through a drip to relieve these symptoms.
Principal Investigator and Mackay Base Hospital anaesthetist Dr Richard Cooper said sometimes the simplest change could make the biggest difference in patient care.
Dr Cooper said the study had the potential to make a huge difference to patient recovery after surgery.
“About a third of surgical patients, particularly women, suffer severe post-operative nausea and vomiting which can contribute significantly to patient discomfort, cost of care and other complications,” Dr Cooper said.
“The aim is to determine if chewing gum is as good as standard treatment with intravenous ondansetron in achieving full resolution of nausea and vomiting after anaesthesia.
“If effective, it will improve patient recovery, offer cost savings and result in shorter hospital stays and fewer admissions for patients.”
MIRI clinical trials nurse Tracy Hess said the science behind chewing gum as a relief against nausea was already well-founded in research.
Ms Hess said the brand of flavour of the gum didn’t matter as much as the action of chewing.
“We think it is not the peppermint flavour of the gum, but the chewing action that is contributing to the results,” Ms Hess said.
“It would appear the brain can’t be both nauseous and hungry at the same time, so it is much like tricking the brain into thinking it is eating.”
Coordinated and funded by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists Clinical Trials Network, the ‘Chewy Trial’ is being run in 11 sites internationally and is expected to run for two years.