Dealing with the Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy … with all of its wondrous outcomes … can cause many side effects.

What’s the best way to combat them? A combination of medical and holistic approaches can be very effective in relieving nausea, constipation, fatigue and low blood cell counts.

What are Good Ways to Manage Nausea?

An anti-nausea medication – commonly Zofran® – can be taken 30 minutes prior to a chemotherapy treatment and then every eight hours as needed.

Outside of medication, nausea can be prevented and treated by:

  • Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day.
  • Staying hydrated by drinking small sips of water, juice, ginger ale and other liquids at a time.
  • Enjoying peppermint tea and ginger candies, which can be found at your local grocery store.
  • Partaking in relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga and aromatherapy.

How can Constipation be Relieved?

Use a stool softener (such as Colace®) and a laxative (such as Senna or MiraLAX®) as prescribed.

In addition:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking water, fruit juices and decaffeinated tea.
  • Eat foods high in fiber, such as pears, apples, prunes, oatmeal and fiber cereals.
  • Exercise daily. Walking for five minutes three to four times a day as tolerated will help.

How can Fatigue be Combatted?

It’s best to treat fatigue naturally by:

  • Balancing activity and rest.
  • Ensuring proper nutrition and hydration.
  • Moving your body daily, including stretching, walking and doing yoga.
  • Trying to get plenty of sleep at night.
  • While not preferred, a prescription medication can be taken if fatigue is interfering with daily life.

What can be Done About Low Blood Cell Counts?

Low blood cell counts can cause a variety of symptoms including fatigue, easy bruising and increased risk of infection. Frequent blood tests monitor blood cell counts, and prophylactic antibiotics may be administered to prevent certain infections.

Natural ways to support an impacted immune system include:

  • Well-balanced nutrition to ensure appropriate vitamin and nutrient intake.
  • Proper infection prevention including hand washing and avoiding contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoiding dental procedures unless cleared by a physician.
  • Getting sufficient sleep and daily exercise.

Want to learn more? Contact Angela Davis, APN, at the Glasser Brain Tumor Center at 973.993.7322.