Chemotherapy is a medical procedure, commonly used for the treatment of cancer. Even though chemo destroys the rapidly dividing cancerous cells in the body and makes it healthy again, the journey to getting healthy is challenging and lined-up with unwanted chemotherapy side effects.
Chemotherapy Side Effects – In Short Term
According to a top Oncologist in Mumbai,
The side effects of chemotherapy vary depending on the drugs and its usage.
In a lot of cases, short term chemotherapy side effects include feeling tired all the time, sudden hair fall, unexplained bruises and mouth sores. Vomiting and nausea are other common side effects of chemotherapy. Weight loss is another side effect commonly seen in a lot of patients. In some cases, a sudden fall in white cells count is also seen.
Chemotherapy Side Effects – In Long Term
While chemo involves administering strong medicines to kill cancer cells, the medications can also adversely affect healthy body cells in the long term. Generally, the following chemotherapy side effects are seen in the long term:
Nerve Damage – Chemo may cause damage to nerve endings resulting in tingling sensation, pain or numbness in hand or feet. In some cases, the nerve damage can be permanent.
Chronic Fatigue – A lot of patients experience fatigue, weakness and chronic tiredness during chemo and complain of the same symptoms years beyond the treatment.
Memory Problems – Although not common, some patients experience loss in memory or lose their ability to remember and concentrate.
Fertility Issues – In quite a few cases, it is observed that chemo has affected fertility – in men and women or affected the ability to enjoy sexual life.
Cardiac Problems – Certain drugs in chemotherapy may cause damage to the heart, especially during treatment of breast cancer.
Menopausal Symptoms – Chemo affects the menstrual cycle and may result in early menopause.
Leukemia – Although not very common, chemotherapy can cause leukemia in the long run. This side effect depends on the type of drugs administered, dosage and length of the treatment.
Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects
Drinking plenty of water, staying active and eating balanced diet are the basics of dealing with the side effects of chemo. Join a support group and share the day-to-day challenges with your loved ones to manage the emotional trauma of chemotherapy.
Other things to do to manage the side effects of chemotherapy and reduce the toll it takes on the body are:
- To prevent nausea and vomiting, eat bland food that can be easily digested by the stomach. Preferably eat small meals 3 to 5 times a day.
- Eat healthy and stay active to fight the feeling of tiredness. Go for a 10-15 minute walk in the open, at least once a day.
- Eat cream or honey before meals to reduce the pain caused by mouth sores. Avoid spicy and hot food.
- Buy wigs, scarves, hats or other accessories to deal with hair loss
- Strictly avoid alcohol and smoking
- Try cold food, fresh fruits and vegetables to avoid cooking and staying away from kitchen
- Participate in support group to share the emotional trauma
Communicate effectively with the doctor and family members, so that together you can come up with an action plan to manage chemotherapy side effects.
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