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Cancer Health Center

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Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects

Simple tips for coping with the nausea, fatigue, and hair loss that can accompany chemotherapy.

No Nausea During Chemotherapy? It's Possible continued...

Ginger. The spicy bite of ginger may also help manage nausea and vomiting, reports the National Cancer Institute. To test this theory, researchers at the University of Michigan are currently seeking people undergoing chemotherapy to take part in a ginger clinical trial.

Guided imagery. This meditative practice involves imagining a pleasant, relaxing place in your imagination -- your favorite vacation spot for example. By focusing on what you usually feel, see, hear, and taste in this place, you can block negative physical sensations.

Eat through it. Nausea not only makes you feel bad, but it can also ruin your appetite. Yet good nutrition is crucial for people fighting cancer. When you can't manage big meals, nibble throughout the day on healthy snacks, or sip on juice and soup. On days when you have a good appetite, by all means, eat!

Speaking of eating: Mouth sores can also be a problem for some people going through chemo and the sores may be sensitive to spices, salt, citrus, and crunchy foods -- jalapeno-lime flavored tortilla chips might not be the best snack choice right now!

Last in the Terrible Triad: Hair Loss From Chemotherapy

Hair loss is the third of the infamous side effects people often associate with chemo. Though the core chemo drugs for lung cancer, cisplatin and carboplatin, don't usually cause this problem, other drugs used in combination with them may cause hair loss.

To help lessen hair loss from chemotherapy:

  • Use a gentle shampoo.
  • Set your hair dryer on low heat.
  • Don't set your hair with brush rollers.
  • Avoid chemical or heat processes on your hair.

    How you deal with hair loss depends on your personal style. Some go for the bald look. Others wear a scarf, bandana, or cap.

    Wigs and hairpieces are an option, too. To find a wig that closely matches their normal hairstyle, some people choose a wig prior to losing their hair. Ask your doctor to write you a prescription for a "hair prosthesis" and insurance may cover part or all of the cost of a wig.

    Coping with chemotherapy's side affects can seem daunting, but with knowledge and maybe a little experimentation, you can cope -- and thrive.

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Reviewed on April 13, 2007

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