How to Cope With Common Radiation Side Effects

Radiation therapy is a great way to treat many types of cancer. As a less invasive form of treatment— compared to chemotherapy— radiation can help to shrink and even completely get rid of cancerous tumors throughout the body. However, just like with chemotherapy there are some side effects of radiation therapy to be mindful of. This article will discuss what those side effects are and how to cope with them.

Problems with Eating
If you received radiation therapy around the neck, stomach, or intestines, you will likely suffer from things like nausea, vomiting, sores in the mouth and esophagus, and an overall loss in appetite. In order to ensure that you don’t lose weight during radiation and that your body is getting enough calories— even if eating is the last thing you want to do— try to eat a diet that’s rich in protein and fats. For instance, try to eat foods like scrambled eggs and toast with butter on it for breakfast in the morning.

Fatigue
fatigueAs one of the most common side effects of radiation treatment, fatigue can make you want to sleep and stay in bed virtually all day long. However, in order to cope with your fatigue, try to get on a regimented schedule. For instance, plan to take a nap a few hours after breakfast and then visit with friends. Planning to take naps consistently throughout the day while giving yourself some time to socialize will help make you feel like you’re still getting stuff done even though you are taking time to rest throughout your day.

Sensitive Skin
Another common side effect of radiation therapy is dry, itchy, swollen, red, flaky, and sensitive skin. As soon as you start to notice these changes to your skin, try to avoid tight clothing that will only exacerbate the problem. Cover your skin in soothing creams such as shea butter and avoid scratching your skin at all costs. Also, if you decide to go outside, make sure to wear an SPF because your skin may be more prone to sunburns and blistering.

Undergoing radiation therapy is a blessing and a curse. Although it is a great way to get rid of cancer and get your life back, some of the side effects can leave you feeling exhausted and unlike yourself. However, by following the above suggestions, you can feel comfortable while dealing with the side effects.

To learn more, contact UTMB Radiology.

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