What is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is a combination of drugs used to kill cancer cells in the body, However, every type of cancer has a different combination of chemotherapy drugs. Chemo drugs besides killing cancer cells also kill and destroy other normal cells. This results in many side effects.
Common side effects of Chemotherapy.
side effects of chemotherapy vary with the drug used to treat the type of cancer. And each patient experiences side effects that differ from patient to patient. Although some side effects are the same in all patients, which we will discuss further, and management of these side effects is almost the same for all patients.
Nausea and vomiting:
Chemotherapy drugs cause nausea because these drugs interfere with the lining of the gastrointestinal wall as well as affect some functions in the brain due to which patients feel nausea and vomit.
Decrease Blood Counts🙁 as a side effect of chemotherapy)
chemotherapy drugs besides killing cancer cells also destroy normal cells. Which resulted in low white blood cells, platelets, and Hemoglobin. This is called pancytopenia in medical terminology.
Decrease white blood count:
A decrease in white cell count is called neutropenia. Due to the low white count, the patient will be at high risk for infection. White blood cells usually work against infections in the body.
low Platelet Count:
generally, it functions to stop bleeding. Decrease in the platelet count, patients are pronged for bleeding (Patients can bleed very easily). This condition is called thrombocytopenia.
Decrease Hemoglobin Level:
Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to cells for energy production in cells If the HB level drops than normal, the patient will feel tired and low energy level.
Skin Discoloration🙁 As a side effect of chemotherapy)
Some chemotherapy drugs cause skin discoloration and skin pigmentation. This causes the skin to be sensitive to the sun or any topical medications.
As, chemotherapy fighting and destroying cancer cells and normal cells, may result in a low energy level in the patient. It may also be due to low oral intake of food due to nausea and vomiting.
(Chemo drugs destroy cells of the intestine or internal mucosal lining so the patient suffers from loose motions.
Some chemotherapy drugs cause constipation. It may be due to a lack of physical activity due to low energy levels or due to decreased oral intake, especially juices or fluids.
Some patients feel severe headaches, which may be due to low sugar levels or decreased fluid intake which leads patient to dehydration.
White blood cells normally function to fight against infections. However, chemotherapy drug destroys the cancer cells as well as normal white blood cells. Decrease in WBC count patients who have low immunity, can get infections very easily. For example any blood infection, infection in urine, and respiratory infections like flu, COVID- 19 or pneumonia. Fever is a sign of infection consult your doctor immediately.
Drugs used in cancer treatment usually destroy fast-growing cells. In the human body hair cells are fast-growing cells, so drugs destroy the root cells of hair resulting in hair fall.
Drugs used in the treatment of cancer can have some effects on brain cells which results in low mood This may also occur as cancer itself is a serious disease, due to which patient can go into depressed mood.
When to contact a physician?
contact your concerned doctor in case of the following symptoms. Ignoring the following signs can lead to serious emergencies.
if the patient has a fever equal to or more than 101F.
severe loose motions
uncontrol nausea and vomit
color getting paler day by day
bleeding from the nose, in stool, and in urine.
Hence, chemotherapy causes many side effects These side effects may be managed by some home remedies. For example In case of loose motions use KYB DIET (khichdi, banana, and yogurt) and can take (ORS) at home. Avoid high-fiber diet, milk, and milk products if diarrhea worsens consult your doctor. Care of a patient in a special period called the neutropenic phase is very important. Good care in the neutropenic phase at home can prevent frequent hospital admissions and visits.