When it comes to treating various cancers, chemotherapy is still considered to be one of the most effective. Designed to kill the cancer cells in the body, chemotherapy medicine is usually given intravenously, but it can be taken in oral tablet form. Unfortunately, although chemotherapy is effective at killing cancer cells, it can also cause damage to some of the body’s healthy cells.This can result in some unpleasant, and even painful, side effects. During chemotherapy, it is not uncommon for patients to experience some of the following:
itchy, dry, or sore skin
pins and needles, or numbness in the hands and feet
loss of appetite
changes in taste
nausea and vomiting
increased risk of bruising or bleeding
diarrhea or constipation
lowered immune system, increasing the risk of infections.
The good news is that most of these symptoms will subside once the treatment for cancer stops. During treatment though, there are many ways in which these symptoms can be treated (or even prevented). The following are just some examples:
Managing Nausea and Vomiting
The nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy is perhaps one of the most unpleasant symptoms. Thankfully, there are a number of drugs, known as antiemetics (anti-nausea drugs), that can help to control nausea and vomiting. In some patients they can prevent them from occurring. It is also a good idea to eat small meals often rather than fewer large meals. Avoid caffeine and fried, greasy foods.
It is common to suffer with fatigue during chemotherapy. It is advisable to get as much rest as you can, and little naps of around fifteen minutes at a time during the day can help with energy levels and with getting a good sleep at night. You should make sure you are getting enough to drink as well. Try to drink more non-caffeinated liquids such as water and diluted juices. You can also add some electrolytes to your liquids, for energy.
Sometimes, pain can be a side effect of chemotherapy treatment, but this usually depends on the type of cancer that you have. Your doctor will usually prescribe pain medication to help, but there are other things that you can try. The experts at Maloca Sound say that treatments such as music therapy are often used by cancer patients as a way to distract them from the pain they are experiencing. Other patients say that a warm bath can help to ease their pain.
Managing Increased Risk of Bleeding
Platelet count tends to drop after chemotherapy treatment, and this can increase the risk of bleeding as well as lowering your ability to stop the bleeding. It can also make bruising more likely. To manage this, it is important to take extra care to avoid falls and to prevent bumping into things. You should also switch to a soft toothbrush to prevent bleeding gums.
Managing Diarrhea and Constipation
Changes to the digestive system are common during chemotherapy, and you could be affected by either diarrhea or constipation. To manage diarrhea, make sure that you are getting enough liquids and consider an over-the-counter medication. Avoid eating high fiber, high fat, and spicy foods. Constipation on the other hand can be managed by eating more fibrous foods such as fruits and vegetables.
The symptoms associated with chemotherapy treatment are often very unpleasant, but they can be effectively managed. Speak to your oncology team about the best way to manage the symptoms. They will provide you with advice about how to get relief and may also be able to recommend medications, if appropriate.