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What are the side effects of chemotherapy and how to deal with them

Today, World Breast Cancer Day, all kinds of information about this disease and its prevention, about the latest advances in research and treatments and the good results that precision medicine, the teams superspecialists such as those in the Breast Area of ​​the Ribera health group; and personalized treatments for patients. In addition, recovery rates are increasingly high, as well as a very good quality of life for patients, just one year after treatment. However, in today’s health blog entry we will talk about something very specific about this disease, although it does not only apply to women with breast cancer, but to all patients with cancer in general: what are the most common side effects of chemotherapy and how to deal with them.

But first of all, the question we all ask ourselves is why does chemotherapy cause side effects if it is a medication to cure? The American Cancer Society explains that the cause of the side effects is the damage caused by chemotherapy medication to healthy cells, because when administered throughout the body, it not only attacks cancer cells, which they multiply very quickly. Also healthy.

And why are some of the side effects so common in chemotherapy patients? For example, let’s talk about hair loss, stomach or hunger problems or a lack of defenses. Because the normal cells that are most likely to be affected by chemotherapy are those that produce blood in the bone marrow, those in the hair follicles (hair roots) and cells in the mouth, digestive tract and organs of the reproductive system.

The professionals of the Ribera health group give us some tips to minimize the consequences of the medication and the disease itself. They also remember that “apart from very specific cases, most of the side effects of chemotherapy usually appear 2-3 days after receiving the cycle”.

  • To relieve nausea and vomitingthe most common side effect of chemo, in addition to the medication prescribed by the oncologist, professionals recommend:
    • Wear comfortable clothes as much as possible
    • Do not eat very spicy or hot foods
    • Avoid entering the kitchen when food is being prepared, with raw products.
  • To control diarrhea in chemowhich occurs because the alteration of the intestinal mucosa is common:
    • Plan an astringent diet with rice, avoiding fiber
    • Take cooked vegetables and fruit
    • Reduce dairy
  • To control constipation:
    • Increase fiber consumption
    • Increase physical activity
    • Facilitate regularity when going to the bathroom, planning the hours.
    • Don’t go to the bathroom in a hurry.
  • To stop mucositisthe redness that occurs in the mucous membranes and that can lead to sores in the mouth, throat and digestive tract.
    • It is important to have good oral hygiene, use mouthwash and resort to specific mouthwashes if we notice a worsening, despite having good oral hygiene.
    • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
    • Take soft and easy foods.
  • To combat dry mouththe sensation of thirst and fissures at the corners of the lips, caused by this dryness:
    • Take fresh infusions of aloe vera, thyme etc
    • Avoid salty foods that accentuate this sensation and, in addition, can cook
  • To mitigate the alteration of taste and smell:
    • Take white meat instead of red, because of the metallic taste that the latter produce.
    • Consume juices and wines to taste, which provide nutrients.
    • Avoid strong sauces and highly seasoned foods…

Finally, the professionals of the Ribera health group remember that loss of appetite is another general side effect. “Sometimes it is due to the medication or the side effects of the treatment on certain days, but this is not always the case”, they say. Sometimes the reason for the lack of appetite is the patient’s state of mind, since meals in many cultures have an important socializing component that, at certain times of the illness, the patient has little interest in fostering. To help patients with this feeling of reluctance, professionals recommend involving them in the events, facilitating the adaptation of the menu to their tastes, needs and state of health. Keeping it simple always helps. Smile, help and “be”, too.

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this blog is to provide health information that is in no way a substitute for consultation with a physician. The Ribera health group is not responsible for the content, opinions and images that appear related to the blogs, but if it is informed that there is any inappropriate or illegal content, it will proceed to its elimination immediately.

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