October 18, 2018

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy is a common form of treatment for patients who are suffering from cancer. Some chemotherapy medicines have been used to treat a range of issues including scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. Renowned for the frequency and intensity of side effects, chemotherapy should only be used if it is absolutely necessary. Some patients will experience a suppression of their immune systems, hair loss, digestive problems and mucositis.

Precautions

Anyone being treated with chemotherapy should not become pregnant or breastfeed their child. The harmful effects of chemotherapy can cause mental disorders and fatalities among children. Infants conceived during chemotherapy may have cognitive problems or genetic defects.

Top Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy is a harsh form of treatment that was designed to kill cancerous cells. Anything that is strong enough to kill cancer can also cause harm to other parts of the body. When users start using chemotherapy, the drugs and radiation can depress their immune system. If patients are not careful to wash their hands and avoid sick people, they can develop fatal infections. They could also develop shingles, sepsis, herpes simplex or bacterial infections.

chemotherapy side effectsUsers of chemotherapy are highly likely to bleed or bruise easily. The medication is designed to kill cells that divide rapidly. As the medication does this, it reduces the amount of platelets in the blood stream. If the patient becomes injured, they may find it difficult to stop the bleeding. To remedy this situation, some doctors will give the patient a platelet transfusion to temporarily boost the number of platelets in their body.

Most patients who use chemotherapy report feeling exceptionally exhausted after treatment. Cancer patients normally feel fatigued, but chemotherapy can increase feelings of drowsiness. Fatigue may also be caused by chemotherapy-induced anemia. In addition to this extremely common side effect, patients may begin to lose their hair. As chemotherapy begins to kills off the body’s cells, hair may begin to fall out.

Another common side effect of chemotherapy is gastrointestinal issues. Patients often experience side effects like diarrhea, constipation, nausea or vomiting. Since patients cannot keep food down, they may also experience symptoms of dehydration and malnutrition. If a patient experience gastrointestinal problems, they can visit their doctor for antiemetic drugs or advice to reduce the symptoms. Some patients have found small meals and ginger tea to be effective remedies for nausea and vomiting.

Other Side Effects

Chemotherapy can cause permanent damage to the heart, brain, liver, kidney and ears. Some patients may develop a case of secondary acute myeloid leukemia. This type of leukemia is normally caused by chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Once the patient has stopped using chemotherapy, they may find it impossible to have children. Women and men can become permanently infertile as a result of their treatment.

Some of the most common side effects of chemotherapy include:

– Fatigue
– Diarrhea
– Easy bleeding or bruising
– Negative effects on the skin and nails
– constipation
– Aches and pains
– Lung disease
– Frequent infections
– Sexual dysfunction
– Flu-like symptoms
– Infertility
– Depression of the immune system
– Paralysis
– Nausea and/or vomiting
– Tumors
– Red or dry skin
– Sexual impotence
– Cardiovascular disease
– Anemia
– Leukemia
– Kidney and bladder problems
– Fluid retention

Chemotherapy is extremely stressful on every organ of the body. In general, it hits organs with fast-replicating cells the worst. These organs include the hair, skin, nails, stomach, mouth and intestine. Although this list includes many of the side effects, there could be more. Patients should discuss the potential side effects with their doctor so they know what to expect.

If a patient experiences any side effects, they should immediately tell their doctor. Although some side effects are expected, they could be a sign of worse problems like leukemia, cardiovascular disease or tumor growth. A qualified physician may also be able to prescribe a medication for symptoms like nausea or vomiting.