Abhiram’s mother was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer, and she had been experiencing fatigue and vomiting recently. Abhiram is worried about her health and wellness and is scared whether these symptoms are signs that she is getting worse.
But his mother’s doctor assures him that fatigue and sickness are side effects of Chemotherapy and that his mother was surely getting better. This makes him feel better, and he starts looking into the other side effects of the treatment so that he can help his mother whenever necessary.
What is Chemotherapy and what is it used for?
Chemotherapy is a medicinal procedure that utilizes strong drugs to destroy your body’s rapidly growing cells. It’s most prescribed to treat cancer because cancer cells develop and proliferate considerably faster than the rest of the body’s cells. Chemo drugs could be used as a treatment for a number of cancers, either on their own or in conjunction.
Chemotherapy is an approved health and wellness remedy for many forms of cancer, but it also comes with a risk of adverse effects. Many side effects of chemotherapy are minor and controllable, whereas others can be life-threatening.
Chemotherapy can be used in a lot of circumstances in cancer patients, as a single treatment or accompanied by others. It is also used to destroy any cancer cells which persist in the system following other therapies, such as surgeries. This is referred to as adjuvant therapy by physicians. It can be used to reduce tumors to some extent, and sometimes to alleviate cancer signs and symptoms.
Some chemotherapy medications can be used to manage a variety of different illnesses other than cancer, including:
- Illnesses of the bone marrow
- Immune response malfunctions
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Fatigue: Fatigue and tiredness even at doing small tasks are common after undergoing chemotherapy. If you feel too tired all the time, consider seeing a doctor and prioritizing your health and wellness, as this could be a symptom of anemia as well.
To deal with tiredness you can:
- Rest properly
- Try gentle exercise, including walks or yoga, this can help you feel more energized, but be wary not to overdo it.
- Don’t partake in tasks you don’t feel like you can do
- Enlist the assistance of your family and friends for day-to-day duties.
- Take enough vacation time or work part-time.
Hair Loss: While not everyone experiences hair loss as one of the side effects of chemotherapy, it is a typical consequence. If you do start losing hair after your first therapy session, it typically happens in a few weeks. Hair loss is most prevalent on the head, but it could also occur in other areas of the body, such as the arms, legs, and face.
Shortly after your therapy is complete, your hair should begin to regrow. Hair loss is distressing. Your doctors will recognize how upsetting it can be and will be adequate to assist you as well as explain your alternatives. You can, for example, wear wigs or headwear like a scarf.
Nausea: Feeling sick and vomiting is another common side effect of chemotherapy. This can be alleviated to some extent with the help of medication which can be administered through tablets or drops. If certain medicines don’t work for you, or are causing too many chemo side effects, you can tell your doctors, as it may take some experimentation to find the right medication for you.
Infections: Chemotherapy might weaken the body’s defenses against infection. As a result, you’re more susceptible to getting infections that might leave you very sick. Antibiotics may be administered to minimize your chances of contracting an illness.
You can try to avoid them by:
- Avoiding close contact with persons who have an infection – such as chickenpox or flu
- Washing your hands with soap and water on a frequent basis
Anemia: Chemotherapy reduces the number of red blood cells in your system, which transport oxygen throughout the body. You will develop anemia if your red blood cell count becomes too insufficient.
The following are some of the signs and symptoms of anemia:
- Fatigue and an extreme tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Pale skin tone
Bleeding and Bruises: The number of platelets in the bloodstream can be reduced by chemotherapy. If you scratch or damage yourself, these can assist staunch the bleeding. If you have a lower platelet count, you may experience easily bruised skin, acute nosebleeds, and bleeding gums. It’s possible that you’ll need medication to boost your platelet count.
Lack of Appetite: Although chemotherapy can cause you to reduce your appetite, you must attempt to stay hydrated and eat as much as you can. Rather than three substantial meals a day, try eating smaller portions more frequently and eating nutritious snacks on a routine basis.
Sore Mouth: Chemotherapy can cause the mouth membrane to become painful and inflamed. Mucositis is the medical term for this condition. Indications of the same include sore mouth ulcers on the inside of your mouth, difficulty while chewing, swallowing, and speaking, and a sore throat.
Avoiding meals that are hot, spicy, or acidic can assist in preventing a sore mouth. Mucositis normally improves within a few weeks of completing treatment.
Inability to Sleep: Chemotherapy patients may experience insomnia and have trouble falling asleep or waking up in the midst of the night and being unable to return to sleep.
The following suggestions might help you sleep better and take better care of your health and wellness:
- Set consistent bedtimes and wake-up times.
- Unwind before sleeping by having a warm shower or hearing soothing music.
- Employ heavy blinds or curtains, an eye patch, and earbuds to avoid getting awakened up by light or sound.
- Before heading to bed, eliminate coffee, tobacco, liquor, big meals, TV, and activity for several hours.
Chemo Brain: Chemo brain is a phrase used among cancer sufferers to explain issues with memory and concentration that can arise after and during chemotherapy treatment. Chemo brain is also known as chemo fog, cognitive deficits caused by cancer, or cognitive dysfunction.
Constipation and Diarrhea: A few days after starting chemotherapy, you may experience diarrhea or constipation. Your medical staff can suggest medications and dietary modifications that may be beneficial.
These symptoms and chemo side effects are somewhat normal after chemotherapy. By following some steps you can deal with most of them. However, if you feel like you are experiencing too much difficulty at any time, contact a doctor or medical professional immediately.
How long does it take for side effects to appear following cancer treatments?
Prolonged vomiting and nausea typically begin over 24 hours after administration and can linger for several days. It's more probable with certain forms of cancer treatment chemotherapy or other drugs.
Does the severity of chemotherapy side effects increase with each treatment?
Chemotherapy-related discomfort usually improves or disappears between sessions. Nerve damage, on the other hand, frequently worsens with each dosage. It is sometimes necessary to quit the medicine that is triggering the nerve damage. Chemotherapy-induced nerve damage might take months or even years to heal or disappear.