To ease mild pain, you can try:
- Heating pads or ice packs to help dull aches
- Massage or acupuncture
- Deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation techniques
- Biofeedback, a practice that helps you control your breathing, heart rate, and other processes in your body. It can change how you perceive your pain.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or NSAIDs, (such as ibuprofen or naproxen). Talk with your doctor to make sure you can safely take these medications.
To manage steadier or more severe pain, your doctor might recommend one or more of these prescription medicines:
Nausea and Vomiting
About 8 out of 10 people who are treated for cancer have nausea and vomiting, which are often caused by chemotherapy and radiation. These symptoms are tough to live with, and vomiting a lot can leave you dehydrated.
Drugs called antiemetics control nausea. You take them at certain times of the day or whenever you feel sick. While your stomach is upset, eat bland foods like dry crackers, toast, and rice. Cook smaller, light meals, and avoid foods that make you feel sick. If you have trouble keeping food down, call your doctor.
Cancer and treatments like chemotherapy can lower the amount of healthy red blood cells in your body and lead to anemia. That means your blood can’t carry enough oxygen to all the tissues in your body. Anemia causes symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, dizziness, and pale skin.
If you have low iron levels, one way to fight anemia is to eat more iron-rich foods, like dark green leafy vegetables, beans, sweet potatoes, and meat. Or you can take an iron supplement. Other options are to get a blood transfusion or take medicine that helps your body make more red blood cells.
Palliative care doesn't treat cancer, but it does focus on relieving symptoms to help you feel better and do the things you need and want to do. You can get palliative care together with cancer treatment, or on its own when you've finished your therapy. If your doctors suggest palliative care, it doesn't mean they’ve given up on your treatment -- only that they want to make you more comfortable.
Your cancer doctor, nurse, palliative care physicians and other members of your cancer team will give you palliative treatments. You can get this care at a hospital, in your home, or as part of a hospice program.