Interactive Health Library
Chemotherapy can damage your body’s ability to make red blood cells, so body tissues do not get enough oxygen, a condition called anemia. People who have anemia may feel very weak or tired, dizzy, faint, or short of breath, or may feel that their hearts are beating very fast.
To reduce your risk for infection, avoid people who are sick with contagious illnesses, including colds, the flu, measles, or chickenpox.
People often choose to wear wigs, scarves, or hats while or after losing their hair. If this is what you would like to do, pick them out ahead of time and start wearing them before your hair is completely gone.
Chemotherapy can affect both the skin and nails. It may cause an increased sensitivity to the sun as well as redness, rashes, itching, peeling, dryness, or acne. Nails may become darkened, yellow, brittle, or cracked, and may also develop vertical lines or ridges.
Treatment for cancer, as well as the cancer itself, can affect your sense of taste or smell. You may find that many foods seem to have less taste. Other foods, especially meat or other high-protein foods, may taste bitter or metallic.
After receiving a few treatments, some patients feel nausea and begin vomiting in anticipation of the next treatment. The reaction is usually caused by something related to the treatment, like the smell of alcohol or the sight of a medical uniform.
If you have nausea and vomiting, choose foods that are easy to chew, swallow, and digest, such as toast, crackers, and pretzels; yogurt; sherbet; skinned chicken; ice chips; and carbonated drinks.
Your physician may prescribe a medication to control your symptoms, and/or, if symptoms persist, you may need fluid replacement intravenously (IV). It is possible to replace these fluids intravenously on an outpatient basis. When you are having chemotherapy, you should not take any over-the-counter medications for diarrhea without first consulting your physician.
These are good food choices when you have diarrhea: yogurt and cottage cheese; rice, noodles, and potatoes; eggs; white bread; smooth peanut butter; and skinned chicken or turkey, lean beef, and fish.
Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to help loosen the bowels. If you do not have mouth sores, try warm and hot fluids, including water, to help provide relief from constipation symptoms.
Check with your doctor to see if you can increase the fiber in your diet. If you can, try foods like whole-grain breads and cereals, dried fruits, wheat bran, and wheat germ; fresh fruits and vegetables; and dried beans and peas.
Mucositis can be a very troublesome and painful side effect of chemotherapy. Common symptoms include diarrhea and abdominal cramping or tenderness.
Detailed information on radiation therapy, one type of cancer therapy
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