Side-effects & tips
Additional side effects and tips for the chemotherapy journey




1 Protect your teeth and gums

  • Use a soft toothbrush and an alcohol-free toothpaste. As chemotherapy patients suffer from sensitive gums, tongue and mouth, this will help in decreasing infection and pain.
  • To prevent mouth ulcers, gargle with a teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda and half a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water. Repeat this twice a day.

2. Always have a thermometer at home. When a patient’s blood count is low (white cell count), they can suffer from fever which indicates there is an infection.

3. Nausea

  • If a patient suffers from nausea, first check if they are constipated. In some cases constipation causes nausea.
  • Then check on what types of food have been eaten, as certain foods cause constipation. If these are all in check, it is advisable to contact the sister and confirm what medication can be taken.

4. Constipation/bloating

  • This goes back to fluids and how much water the patient drinks. Drink at least two litres daily.
  • Ensure that your balanced diet includes lots of fibre.
  • Use a stool softener, such us Loxion, that helps prevent constipation.
  • Avoid gas-forming foods such as cabbage, broccoli.
  • Enos or citro-soda can assist with mild bloating.

5. Diarrhoea

  • Before taking medication, first check your diet and what food has been taken.
  • Grate an apple and let it turn brown before eating it, that can assist.
  • Drink black coffee or tea and a lot of water to assist with the electrolytes which are lost.
  • To stiffen the stools, eat white rice or dry white toast.
  • Eat bananas as they help to replace potassium.
  • Lomotil is the go-to medication for diarrhoea.

6. Burning urine

  • Once again, drink lots of water to flush out the toxins.
  • To help clear the urinary tract, drink cranberry juice. Citro-soda can help, but always consult your oncology nurse.

7. Metallic taste

  • Many patients report having a metallic taste in their mouths. The best help would be to add some lemon to your drinking water.

8. Dry mouth syndrome

  • Suck on sweets, such as lollipops, jelly tots, some patients prefer sour worms.

9. Peripheral neuropathy (pins and needles)

  • This is a common side effect and can last way after the treatment has completed. It can be incredibly unbearable. As you start your chemotherapy journey, start with soaking your hands and feet in a bowl filled with warm water and Epsom Salts. This does not stop the pain but can alleviate the discomfort.
  • Avoid salty foods.
  • Once again, contact your nurse for additional references.

10. Taking care of your port

  • Do not bump your port.
  • Avoid lifting.
  • It is important to ensure that the port is flushed out during your chemotherapy treatments and at least every three months post-chemotherapy.
  • Always report any abnormalities to your oncology nurse.

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