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Common Side Effects of Chemotherapy and How to Cope with Them

Chemotherapy is a significant treatment for cancer. There are a lot of chemotherapy drugs from which your doctor can pick. Chemotherapy works by killing cancer cells in the body. However, the process can lead to tissue damage. The treatment usually affects healthy cells in the bone marrow, hair follicles and digestive system. Although not all those undergoing chemotherapy will experience side effects, some may have to deal with the following:

Nausea and Vomiting

These side effects are quite common for chemotherapy patients. They can be caused by some chemo drugs such as Cisplatin. But these effects can be reduced by taking certain drugs that the doctor can prescribe. Also, nausea and vomiting can be caused by strong-flavored and greasy foods so patients should try to avoid these foods to avoid feeling sick.


Chemotherapy can greatly reduce the number of red blood cells in the patients’ body. This leads to the inability of body tissues to get enough oxygen. In turn, this can result in extreme fatigue. Doctors may recommend a blood transfusion or medications to treat anemia.

Hair Loss

Although this side effect doesn’t happen to all chemotherapy patients, hair loss is real. A hair loss associated with chemo usually begins within a few weeks of the first chemo session. Typically, the patient will lose plenty of hair within one or two months. This effect can be temporary. The patient should start getting hair soon after the completion of their treatment. Hair loss occurs because of the impact of chemo on tissues in the hair follicles.

Mouth Sores

Chemotherapy can affect healthy cells in the mouth, leaving this part of the digestive system weak. Chemo patients must brush their teeth for 90 seconds two times every day using a homemade mouthwash composed of water, baking soda and salt.


Chemotherapy can make the body too weak to fight infections. This makes the patient vulnerable to infections which could make them seriously ill. Cancer patients and those undergoing chemo should take precautions to protect themselves against infections. Their doctor should be able to give them advice.

Loss of Appetite

Although a loss of appetite can happen during chemo, the patient must try to consume lots of liquid and eat what they can. Their care team can create a diet plan for them to make sure they get the daily nutrition they need.

If you have a loved with cancer, you know their struggles. Giving the best chemo gifts is the least you can do to help brighten their day.

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