When you hear about chemotherapy, you’re likely picturing its side effects, especially hair loss and wearing a wig. Surely, all medications have side effects. Even natural medications have side effects. However, chemotherapy side effects typically cause fear and apprehension.
These side effects may occur within days after beginning chemotherapy treatment. Sometimes weeks or months later. However, your medical team will be with you always, and if your side effects are serious, they will lower your dose and do anything that helps you feel better. Most side effects are temporary, and should go away after the treatment is complete. Others are permanent, but there are many ways to treat and prevent them.
Here’s a list with the most important side effects of chemotherapy:
Soreness and dryness in the mouth
Medications for cancer can cause sore mouth ulcers. In case your symptoms are severe or get ulcers in your mouth, do not hesitate to report the problem to your healthcare team immediately for treatment advice. During your care, be sure to keep the gums, teeth, and mouth clean to avoid infections.
For your teeth and gums, you can use a soft toothbrush instead of the average stiff brush. Don´t use rough or vigorous brushing movements. Keep using daily mouthwash. You can mix one teaspoon of baking soda and one of salt in one liter of water to create your own mouthwash. Use this after meals, ideally 4 times every day, or as much as you like.
Pick soft foods instead of hard foods, and drink plenty of liquids. Avoid foods and drinks high in acids such as oranges and grapefruit, as well as alcohol and spicy foods. If you have a dry mouth or throat, and difficulty swallowing, try this:
- Drink as much liquids as you can, and suck ice
- Moisten your foods. A great idea will be sauces or butter
- Instead of eating dry biscuits, dunk them in tea
- Consider with your dentist whether it is appropriate to use artificial saliva
- Blend foods to eat them in smoothies or soups
- Avoid vaping and smoking