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Effects on Gastro-Intestinal System

Nausea and Vomiting

Some chemotherapy drugs can make a person sick or nauseous. The sickness may last for a few hours to a few days in extreme cases. But modern times have made it easier for patients and there are lot more ways to counter these sickness than before. Anti-emetic drugs calm the stomach besides controlling nausea. Steroids are also employed for this purpose. These drugs are used for preventive purposes too.

Some of the measures to handle this problem are as follows-

  • Avoid eating when sick
  • Avoid oily or pungent food
  • Avoid eating just before treatment
  • Ginger (in any form) and peppermints may help to reduce sickness
  • Drink plenty of fluids by sipping them slowly
  • Complementary therapies

Loss of appetite

Chemotherapy drugs may work to reduce an individual’s apetite. Eating small meals or snaking may be a better idea than partaking of heavy meals. The patient may recover his hunger after a while.

Diarrhoea and constipation

Some chemotherapy drugs harm the digestive system’s lining and this may induce diarrhoea for sometime.Some drugs lead to constipation. The patient may consult a dietician and change the dietary habits. Taking plenty of fluid is recommended. A high fibre-diet is recommended in case of constipation. The reverse is advised in case of diorrhea.

Mouth Soreness and Ulcers

Some chemotherapeutic drugs lead to mouth ulcers. Using certain mouthwashes, regular cleaning of teeth using a soft tooth brush will help to contain the problem. Certain gels, pastes or cream may help to soften the soreness. Under these conditions, consulting a doctor is advised. The following are some of the measures that will help.

  • Eating fresh pineapple helps to moisten and freshen the mouth.
  • Sucking on crushed ice reduces mouth sores.
  • Clean/floss teeth after each meal using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Use a mouth wash, if the toothbrush causes pain.
  • If your doctor prescribes a mouthwash for you, use it regularly as prescribed to prevent soreness.
  • Keep your lips moist with a sweet-smelling (optional) lip balm.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, spicy/salty food and acidic drinks.
  • Drink plenty of fluids at least one and a half litres a day. warm herbal tea is useful.

Change in taste

Chemo therapy affects taste sense. Some measures that can be taken are -

  • Eat only the food that appeals
  • Seasoning, flavoring or marinating food will help.

References

  1. MacDiarmid J.A. et al. (2007)
  2. "Bacterially Derived 400 nm Particles for Encapsulation and Cancer Cell Targeting of Chemotherapeutics" Cancer Cell 11, 431-445, May 2007

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