Chemotherapy can help fight cancer, prolong a person’s life, and potentially cure cancer as well. But chemotherapy comes with side effects too. Chemotherapy side effects are quite unpredictable and it largely depends on the type of chemo drug the patient is consuming.
Chemotherapy, at times, cannot differentiate between normal and cancer cells and kills both, which is why some serious chemotherapy side effects occur. Most people going through chemotherapy will experience some side effects. Let’s go through some effective tips to help you manage your chemotherapy side effects much efficiently:
Ø Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are considered as one of the most common chemotherapy side effects but you can help ease nausea and vomiting by making a change in your eating patterns:
- Have five to six small meals a day instead of having three big meals a day.
- Eat patiently, chew your food well and take your time when you eat or drink.
- You can have apple juice, tea or even flat ginger ale either an hour before you eat or after your meals. Avoid having them while eating.
- Avoid strong-smelling foods because strong smells can at times cause nausea.
- Do not have sweets or fried and fatty foods because they might make you feel nauseous.
Your doctor might prescribe you some anti-nausea drugs and these are usually given to prevent you from feeling bilious. You must have a word with your doctor about the best anti-nausea drug for you. Sometimes you might need to try different medications until you find the one that suits you the most.
- Making Extra Efforts
A lot of people have found acupuncture very effective as it gives them relief from major side effects like nausea and vomiting. Moreover, relaxation techniques like breathing and medication might help you put an end to these side effects as well.
Ø Change in Taste
There is some chemotherapy that does not affect your sense of taste. However, there are some that will completely change your taste sense. You could follow some of these tips to have a better taste:
- Red meat might taste a bit different. And if it happens, try poultry or dairy products instead.
- If your favorite food tastes different, avoid eating them so you don’t develop a distaste for that food.
- It is recommended to eat using plastic utensils if you come across a metallic taste in your food.
- You can also use a sweet marinade to give some flavor to your main dish.
Cancer and its treatment weaken the immune system. Chemotherapy also makes you fatigued or tired, but there are some effective ways to manage that:
- Rest is essential for your body. Try taking short naps during the day.
- Exercise and physical workout. A short walk might augment your energy.
- Do not hesitate in seeking help from family and friends when you actually need it.
- Do not get swept away by every random gust, just channelize your energy on important things.
If you still feel that you’re not relieved from being tired or fatigued, check with your doctor immediately. In some patients, chemotherapy side effects lead to anemia and low red blood cell count. Therefore, your doctor will test your blood and provide you the required treatment.
Ø Chemo Brain
There are some people who feel short-term mental fog after chemotherapy treatment. Therefore, in order to manage so-called ‘chemo-brain’ you should follow these tips:
- Make use of a daily planner to assist you in managing and remembering appointments, names, numbers, addresses, and your to-do lists.
- Try to keep your brain active. For that, you could take a class, attend lectures, or do some word puzzles.
- Eat well, do a physical workout, and sleep well.
- Try to focus on just one thing at a time.
Ø Loss of Hair
Hair fall is a common chemotherapy side effect. In case you experience hair fall due to chemotherapy, here are the things to do:
- Avoid using hair products comprising of chemicals like hair dyes or permanents
- Getting your hair short might make it look thicker and fuller
- You can also go for a wig
- Wear a hat or scarf in cold weather conditions, and use sunscreen to protect your scalp from the sun.
- In case you experience a dry scalp, you should wash it with mild moisturizing shampoos and conditioners, and try to avoid some gentle lotions.
There are multiple ways to cope with chemotherapy side effects; therefore always seek the help of your doctor if chemotherapy side effects are making the cancer treatment difficult to manage on the whole. But you should always remember that maintaining a good quality of life during your cancer treatment is very critical.