Side Effects of Chemotherapy and How to Manage Them
May 01, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Side Effects of Chemotherapy and How to Manage Them

Cancer is a broader term that includes 100 different diseases and it refers to an abnormal division of your normal cells anywhere in your body usually targeting your tissues and organs.

Many factors cause cancer, some of them are smoking, obesity, mutations in DNA, and foods like processed meat, red meat, etc.

The most common types of treatments are as follows:


      Radiation therapy

      Hormonal therapy

      Biological therapy


What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for different types of cancer. It acts by releasing anti-cancer drugs as a part of a standardized chemotherapy regimen throughout your body focusing on the inhibition of the abnormal division, growth, and formation of cancer cells. However, it may cause many side effects as it does not only target cancer cells but also causes damage to the healthy cells of the body.

Side effects of chemotherapy and its management

The powerful chemicals used in chemotherapy cause different types of side effects and it is necessary to manage them to regain the overall well-being of oneself physically and emotionally.

The most common side effects are explained below.

1.    Weight loss

The body produces cytokines to fight cancer and cytokines act as a root cause of weight loss. Weight loss can be managed by adding nutritional supplements to your diet and by taking high-calorie foods such as butter, cream, nuts, etc. It can also be managed by keeping yourself hydrated and your body active.

2.    Hair loss or alopecia

About 65 percent of individuals suffer from a massive degree of hair loss from all over the body after the chemotherapy, and it can be prevented in several ways. One of them is to wear ice caps or scalp cooling caps. They reduce the blood circulation to your scalp and limit the number of powerful chemicals reaching it, which ultimately reduces hair loss.

3.    Vomiting and nausea

Vomiting and nausea can be prevented by changing your eating patterns and schedules, taking ginger tea in between your meals, peppermint tea, lemon water, and avoiding smelly foods. It can also be controlled by taking antiemetic medications as prescribed by your doctor for example Zofran, Emend and Aloxi, etc.

4.   Diarrhea

The preventive and therapeutic treatment for diarrhea includes the administration of 5-fluorouracil in combination with leucovorin, intake of fluids to keep the body hydrated, consumption of light foods such as bananas, smoothies, noodles, and the minimization of fatty foods and alcohol consumption.

5.   Constipation

More vegetables and fruits in your diet, consumption of fiber-rich foods such as corn, brown rice, legumes, beans, potatoes with skin and nuts, etc. All these factors act by reducing the chances of chemotherapy-induced constipation. It can also be controlled by prescribed medications.

6.   Fatigue

Fatigue can be managed by a healthy diet and keeping yourself active by doing some light physical exercises. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and go for prescribed medicines if the condition keeps on becoming worse.

7.   Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which the body lacks healthy red blood cells, which ultimately decreases the oxygen supply to the body tissues. Anemia can be managed by a healthy diet that consists of red beans, seafood, legumes, and vitamin C-rich foods, and medications as prescribed by your doctor.

You can contact Shifa4U online to receive the required medication to deal with any of the above side effects.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.