How to Minimize Chemotherapy Side Effects
Different chemotherapy drugs affect cells in different ways. As a result, your side effects will vary. Some common side effects and ways to manage them include:
Nausea and Vomiting
- Eat five or six small meals instead of larger ones
- Drink liquids before instead of with food
- Avoid strong flavors if they bother you
- Limit sweet, fatty, or greasy foods
Brain Fog or “Chemo Brain”
- Use a daily planner and write everything down
- Read, do word puzzles, or find other activities to keep your brain active
- Make a schedule and remember to eat and sleep consistently
- Exercise as much as you feel able, even if you just take a walk
- Prioritize tasks so you use your energy on important things
- Take naps during the day to keep your energy levels up
- Use gentle products without harsh chemicals
- Use a soft-bristled brush and make sure not to tug on the hair
- Do not bleach or dye your hair
How Does Chemotherapy Work?
Chemotherapy comes in many forms. You may receive your chemotherapy orally or by IV. The drug will travel through the body, limiting cancer cells’ ability to divide and grow. Common types of chemotherapy include:
These chemotherapy drugs damage the DNA of cells to stop them from dividing. They are effective for many different types of cancer, but they have some risks.
These drugs disrupt cell division by taking the place of normal DNA building blocks, causing cells to build faulty DNA. As a result, the cancer cells cannot make copies of themselves.
Instead of killing bacteria, these antibiotics interfere with an enzyme that cells need to copy their DNA. Without this enzyme, the cell cycle cannot proceed.
Many of these drugs are derived from plants. They can interrupt cell division, but they also block cells from producing important proteins they need to grow and divide.