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Taking care of the physiological side effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients

Sep 11, 2021 | Oncology

Facing cancer treatment such as chemotherapy is an impact in every way, because it means going through many paths unknown to date. And although this procedure treats cancer effectively, it also causes alterations in the physical well-being of patients by affecting the cells of the body.
Therefore, despite the fact that medicine and science work to reduce the side effects, this treatment continues to cause physical discomfort, more than one in reality, that are difficult to cope with. Although it is true that each patient has a different experience, because it depends a lot on the type of cancer, the location, the drugs, the condition and their general health.


At María D'Uol we know that it is not easy to face a disease such as cancer, therefore, we want to help you if you are going through this situation. These are the most common physiological side effects and some tips to help you alleviate them.

Tiredness and physical exhaustion

This symptom is one of the most frequent. It is described as the lack of energy to carry out daily activities, even after sleeping or resting. This side effect can greatly affect personal life, the ability to work, socialize and share as a family.
To combat this extreme fatigue you can go to your doctor in charge to tell you if any medication is necessary to alleviate this symptom. But these are other tips that can surely help you:

  • Gentle physical activity such as taking walks in the fresh air or doing aerobic exercises for 30 minutes a day can be very helpful in reducing fatigue, helping you sleep, and minimizing weakness in the body.
  • Eat the calories your body needs, drink enough water and eat foods that help you increase the energy you lack.
  • As the side effects go beyond the physical, the emotional burden can increase the symptoms of fatigue. Therefore, going to specialists such as a psycho-oncologist can also help a lot to reduce accumulated tension and thus improve fatigue.

Hair loss

Although it depends on the drug used, hair loss is also common during chemotherapy treatment. It occurs when different drugs act on the hair follicle and causes its degeneration.
We know that this symptom can isolate patients who feel insecure about their appearance , and this can cause them emotional distress, even though they know that the hair will grow back sooner or later, and as beautiful as before with good care. Therefore, we give you these tips to take care of your skin and minimize its damage:

  • Use a shampoo that doesn't irritate your scalp.
  • Dry your scalp slowly and gently when you finish showering.
  • Apply a moisturizing cream without fragrances or components that can alter your Ph, or a repairing oil .
  • The satin pillows are very soft to take care of the scalp.
  • If you decide to wear a wig, allow your skin to rest for at least six hours and during your sleeping hours.
  • Try wearing scarves, hats, or a headwear.

Nausea and vomiting

These symptoms cause great discomfort in practically all cancer patients, in addition to being produced by chemotherapy, the environment and anxiety can also influence their development.
For nausea, the use of anxiolytics and relaxation techniques can help and thus reduce this anxiety. But you can also put these recommendations into practice:

  • Eat in small amounts, but several times a day.
  • Chew your food slowly and calmly.
  • Rest preferably in an armchair for at least an hour after eating.
  • Try breathing exercises or even listen to calm, relaxing music to ease anxiety.
  • Eat light meals before each treatment.
  • Try not to consume foods such as fried foods, alcoholic and soda drinks or very sweet foods during the treatment.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing.
  • Maintain proper oral hygiene.

Diarrhea

Some of the cells that chemotherapy treatment affects are those that line the intestine, causing the loss of the ability to absorb water and nutrients, which ultimately causes diarrhea. Here are some tips you can follow:

  • It allows the intestine to rest in the first hours after the onset of diarrhea and then begins to drink liquids in small sips.
  • Avoid consuming dairy products and their derivatives, alcoholic beverages, cabbage, cauliflower, coffee or foods with a lot of fiber.
  • Prepare your meals cooked or grilled.
  • And of course, inform your doctor of all your symptoms.

Bleeding or bruising

It is very possible that some treatments increase the risk of bleeding and bruising, as they can cause a decrease in platelets that prevent blood clotting and stop bleeding. As a result, red or purple spots may appear on the skin and bleed more easily.
The most essential thing in these cases is that you go to your doctor as soon as possible if you observe any of these alterations in your body.

Changes in skin and nails

Alterations and variations in the skin during treatment are usually very annoying, and they also deserve to be taken into account. These changes usually appear as itching, redness, dryness, and peeling of the skin. Nails, meanwhile, darken and become more brittle.
Therefore, we share other recommendations to counteract these effects:

  • Avoid showering for a long time so that your skin does not dry out.
  • Use moisturizers in the areas of friction and around the nails.
  • Avoid direct exposure to the sun and when you go out, use hats, sunscreen and everything that can protect you.
  • Gently dry your skin after showering.
  • Use soaps that do not irritate your skin.
  • Keep your nails short and avoid getting a manicure.
  • Try not to scratch yourself to avoid possible injury caused by skin sensitivity.


From María D'Uol we recommend that you inform your medical team about all the side effects and changes that you present during your cancer treatment. In this way they can act quickly in search of the solution you need to control them.


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