Cancer kills millions of people around the world with one in every six deaths is caused by cancer according to WHO. Thankfully, there are some treatment options to stop cancer from spreading, including chemotherapy. There are controversies surrounding chemo though since the side effects can cause too much discomfort and pain. This form of treatment destroys cancer cells, but it can also affect healthy cells, which in turn lead to several side effects.
If you or a loved one is undergoing chemotherapy, it is important you tell your doctor about it as well as the oncology nurse. Here are the common chemo side effects and how you can manage them:
When chemo starts, patients generally feel weak and fatigued. The persistent weakness can make it difficult to perform daily activities. Additionally, chemo can lead to low red blood cell levels and anemia, which can double the fatigue felt. So what do you do?
- Take several short naps and rest whenever you need it.
- Spend your energy only on the important things.
- Ask help from other people.
- Boost your energy levels by taking short walks, light yoga or other easy exercises.
- Eat healthy, including proteins and calories to fight fatigue.
This is another common chemo side effect as this treatment can damage the healthy cells in the linings of the stomach and intestines. There are anti-nausea drugs that can alleviate the problem. Ginger supplements and acupressure are helpful too. Greasy foods should be avoided; instead, consume bland foods in smaller portions throughout the day.
3. Hair Loss
This is a depressing side effect, especially to women and can occur a week to three weeks after the first treatment. It is impossible to prevent hair loss, but here are ways to manage it:
- Wash hair with mild hair products.
- Use only hairbrushes with soft bristles.
- Cut hair shorter to make it fuller and thicker.
As mentioned, the stomach and intestinal linings become damaged. The result is that patients experience watery stools, along with nausea, cramps, and bloating. To deal with this side effect:
- Eat probiotics, such as yogurt to promote healthy bacteria in the gut.
- Don’t eat too much. Instead, eat small meals to encourage better digestion. Eat easy-to-digest foods, such as white rice, bananas, and applesauce.
- Avoid fatty and fried foods. As much as possible, don’t consume dairy like milk. Drink water instead.
The side effects can be devastating, but the body possesses natural ways to recover from chemotherapy. Make sure you tell your doctor about the side effects, especially if the prescribe medications aren’t controlling them.