Signs chemo is killing you
At what stage of cancer is chemotherapy used
Chemotherapy is one of the most efficient cancer therapies now accessible, but it also has some negative effects, including exhaustion, nausea, and other issues. Here are some solutions to the problem.
While getting chemotherapy, little activities like walking will help you feel more energized.
Chemotherapy kills rapidly proliferating cancer cells, but as these potent medications eradicate cancer, they can also eradicate rapidly proliferating healthy cells, including those in the mouth, bone marrow, digestive tract, and hair follicles. Side symptoms like nausea, exhaustion, and hair loss may then result from this damage.
According to Keith Eaton, MD, Ph.D., an oncologist and associate professor of medicine at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine in Seattle, the symptoms you encounter and how serious they are will depend on the medications in your regimen and how your body responds to them. (And in reality, not all chemotherapy medications result in side effects.)
Luckily, as knowledge of cancer has increased, so too has knowledge of how to control and lessen the side effects of chemotherapy. The most typical chemo side effects are listed below, along with remedies to help you feel better.
1. Exercise Can Help You Fight Chemo-Induced Fatigue
The most frequent side effect of chemotherapy, according to Dr. Eaton, is fatigue. Chemotherapy-related tiredness frequently cycles. Immediately following treatment, you're probably going to feel the most exhausted. The next treatment usually results in less fatigue.
Exercise is one of the best ways to feel less exhausted while receiving therapy, despite how paradoxical it may seem, according to Eaton. It's not necessary to visit the gym. Even just going for a walk might be quite beneficial, he says.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) suggests that in addition to following a normal sleep-wake cycle, eating a balanced diet that contains protein, and drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water each day, you can also reduce fatigue by taking brief naps or rest breaks (under 30 minutes) during the day.
According to Eaton, fatigue can occasionally be an indication of anemia, which can also be brought on by chemotherapy and is defined as having insufficient red blood cells to provide oxygen to the body. Inform your cancer care team if you get extremely lethargic, have breathlessness, or feel lightheaded. Your tiredness may be reduced by treating this underlying problem.
2. Use medication to stop nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are two of the most prevalent and dreaded side effects of chemotherapy. You might not need to be quite so afraid, though. Antiemetics, or effective antinausea medications, are now available to doctors. Eaton claims that nausea and vomiting are now under good control. "In many cases, we can even solve the issue."
Eating many small meals throughout the day as opposed to three large ones, staying away from greasy or spicy foods, and keeping your head raised for an hour after eating are all helpful ways to combat chemotherapy-related nausea in addition to taking an antinausea prescription. According to the ACS, some study indicates that relaxation methods including deep breathing, music, meditation, and reading a book can also help reduce nausea brought on by chemotherapy.
3. Think about Using a Cooling Cap to Reduce Hair Loss
Some chemotherapy medications destroy the cells in the hair follicles, which can lead to hair loss or thinning. Discuss the possibility of using a cooling cap during treatment with your cancer care team if your chemo regimen contains medications that could result in hair loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, the cause of this condition, known as scalp hypothermia, is thought to be chilling, which constricts blood vessels in the scalp and lessens the amount of chemotherapy that reaches the cells in the hair follicles.
By treating your hair with additional gentleness throughout and after treatment, you can help reduce hair loss. Use a wide-tooth comb rather than a brush, abstain from tugging (ponytails), excessive styling (with a hair dryer or iron), and chemical treatments sometimes. The ACS suggests continuing to take care of your scalp and hair while they regrow because your new hair is probably going to be delicate.
4. Apply Ice Chips on Mouth Sores
Small, frequently uncomfortable sores within your mouth or on your lips might develop when chemotherapy medications damage the healthy cells in the mouth's lining. Sucking on ice chips while receiving therapy may lower your risk, but there is no surefire solution to stop the issue. According to a 2019 study, persons with cancer who used ice chips to keep them in their mouths as long as feasible during specific chemotherapy sessions had considerably fewer mouth-related adverse effects after treatment than those who didn't.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) advises rinsing your mouth with a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt to 1 quart of water if you develop a sore. You should also do this before meals and before going to bed. Ask your doctor for a stronger pain-relieving rinse or a topical drug if you're still experiencing discomfort, especially if it's making it difficult for you to eat or drink.
5. Regular Hand washing will help you Avoid Infection
By reducing the number of white blood cells the bone marrow produces, chemotherapy can decrease immunological function. Invading viruses and bacteria are successfully repelled by these cells. The NCI warns that additional factors, including stress, poor diet, and insufficient sleep, might negatively impact immune function during treatment.
Make sure to wash your hands frequently during treatment to lower your risk of contracting an illness. The ACS advises washing your hands with soap and water before and after eating as well as before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. They also advise carrying an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for when you're out and about. Notify your cancer team straight away if you encounter any infection warning signs, including fever, coughing, or diarrhea. The easier it is to cure an illness, the sooner it is discovered.
6. Let Your Doctor Know If Your Hands or Feet Are Tingled
The nerves that regulate sensation and movement in the arms, legs, hands, and feet are damaged by some chemotherapy treatments. Approximately half of those receiving chemotherapy experience this side effect, also known as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), according to a 2018 study.
Even though CIPN might not be preventable, it's crucial to notify your doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms of nerve damage in your hands or feet, such as tingling (or a "pins and needles" feeling), discomfort, pain, numbness, weakness, or a decreased ability to feel hot or cold. "We can then assess whether the medications we are using can be changed, delayed, or have their dosage reduced," explains Eaton.
Additionally, your physician may prescribe medications to lessen your discomforts, such as numbing creams or patches, steroids, vitamin supplements, anticonvulsants, or depressive drugs (at dosages intended to lessen chronic pain). According to the ACS, physical therapy, acupuncture, biofeedback, and relaxation treatment can all aid in the relief of nerve-related pain.