Dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy | DesiMD

Dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy

When a person learns about chemotherapy, the first thing that scares him or her is the side – effects. Chemotherapy, being a serious treatment, is accompanied with the side – effects.

Every person will experience different side – effects. Nobody will know what your side effects will be until you go through 1 – 2 cycles.

The important part to be kept in mind is that you need to inform your doctor right away as you notice any side – effects.

The common side – effects seen in most of the cases are:


1.Vomiting and nausea


Well, the most common side – effect seen in more than 70% of the patients is vomiting and nausea. It mainly depends on the amount of dose of chemotherapy, a person is given. Also, how the chemotherapy is delivered is responsible for nausea and vomiting.

For example, chemotherapy delivered through vein tends to cause nausea and vomiting much faster as compared to the oral chemotherapy.

There are medications given by the doctor to treat vomiting and nausea.


2.Hair Loss


Hair loss is one of the common side – effect seen in the patients. Its important to know that your hair will grow back and hair loss is only temporary.

Hair loss happens as chemotherapy damages the hair follicles. Normally, hair loss starts within two weeks of the treatment.

To manage hair loss, cooling caps are one option that may lower the risk of hair loss. Also, use mild shampoo instead of strong shampoo. You should protect your scalp from heat and cold.

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Fatigue is another common side – effect seen in most of the patients. It is caused as chemotherapy destroys red blood cells in great numbers. It is also caused due to lack of sleep, high dose of medicines and appetite changes.

The cancer – related fatigue is different from that of the fatigue of the daily life. Some feel too tired to eat, walk to the bathroom or to pick anything.

You feel weak, have no energy and you spend more time in bed.

For the people who are receiving chemotherapy, fatigue is worst in the starting of the days and gets better with time.

A patient can avoid fatigue by relaxing, having proper diet and sleep. He or she should perform some basic exercises.


4. Stool or urine changes


Chemotherapy can also result in bowel problems like diarrhea or constipation. It can cause blood in the stool or urine.



Diarrhea is the disease where you have watery stools for more than 2 times a day with or without discomfort.

In case of diarrhea, a patient can have a clear liquid diet which includes water, apple juice, clear broth, etc. Acidic foods like tomato juice, soft drinks must be avoided.

Foods that have high potassium like bananas, potatoes and help you fight diarrhea. Avoid greasy food, raw vegetables and sweets.



Constipation is the infrequent or difficult passage of hard stool, which causes pain and discomfort. It’s caused when fluid in the body is not  enough for the movement in the bowel. 

In case of constipation, a patient should drink more and more fluids. Fibre rich foods like whole – grain breads, fruit juices, raw fruits and vegetables can help you fight constipation.

Avoid foods that causes gas like cabbage, fizzy drinks, etc as it will worsen the constipation.


Blood in urine

Blood can be seen in the stool or urine sometimes. Bleeding can be caused due to infection, stones in the kidney, tubes, injury or tumor.

In case of blood in urine, medicines are prescribed by the doctor to stop it. Intake of extra fluids help to stop blood in the urine.



5.Fertility and sexuality side effects


People with cancer often are not comfortable taking about their sex or their ability to have children. 


Fertility side effects

Chemotherapy can also cause fertility problems in men and women. You should talk to your doctor about fertility before the beginning of the treatment.

Fertility also depends on certain factors like type of treatment, type of cancer, your age and  overall health.

You can consider preserving eggs and sperms if you want to have children in future. Women should avoid getting pregnant during chemotherapy.


Sexuality side effects

Chemotherapy can cause lose of sexual interest in the patients. A patient should avoid if the count of white blood cells is extremely low.


6. Skin problems


Your skin may get dry , itchy or will change is colour after getting chemotherapy.


Itchy skin

Your skin may appear red, rough or may have rashes or bumps. To soothe the skin, a patient should bathe in warm water. The soap used should be very mild. Avoid using deodorant.

In case of desire to itch, apply cool, wet packs. Wear clothes that are loose and soft.


Dry skin

Dry skin is rough and flaky. You may see cracks in the skin. In case of dry skin, apply moisturizing, alcohol-free creams and  avoid scrubbing.


Changes in skin colour

A skin colour changes occur as there is something going in your body. For instance, a person may look yellow due to liver problems, red because of skin problems, etc.

Generally, chemotherapy causes yellow skin. A patient should wash their skin with warm water and gentle soap. There are medications available to minimize the side – effects.