Chemotherapy patients have specific medical, nutritional, and emotional needs. The treatment process often causes moderate to severe nausea, so proper nutrition coupled with anti-nausea medications is important. Fatigue is a common problem, but careful planning and frequent naps may still allow the patient to enjoy favorite activities. An emotional support system can help chemotherapy patients cope with issues such as hair loss and a fear of dying. Any specific concerns experienced by chemotherapy patients should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional so that proper assistance can be obtained.
There are a few nutritional tips that may be helpful for chemotherapy patients. The drugs used during treatment may cause nausea or a loss of appetite, so creating a meal plan ahead of time and sticking to it can help to ensure that nutritional needs are met. Avoiding spicy, greasy, or sugary foods may prevent diarrhea. If swallowing is a problem, nutritional shakes or soups may be a good option. Special mouth rinses may help prevent the dryness that often occurs as a result of treatment.
Nausea is a common problem for chemotherapy patients, although medical advances have helped to improve this symptom greatly. The patient should notify the doctor if the anti-nausea drugs are not providing sufficient relief, as it often takes a while to find the most appropriate medication and dosage for the individual. Eating several small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals may also help to prevent nausea.
Fatigue is a frequent complaint among chemotherapy patients. Naps can be extremely beneficial, although it is best to nap early in the day so that insomnia does not become a problem at night. Many people who are going through chemotherapy treatments are still able to enjoy favorite activities as long as these outings are planned for times when the patient is feeling well.
Emotional support is vital for chemotherapy patients. Hair loss may occur during treatment, and this can have profound emotional effects, often causing the patient to feel depressed and vulnerable. There may also be a spoken or unspoken fear of death. It is not uncommon for chemotherapy patients to feel that they must be strong for their loved ones, causing them to internalize these emotions. Family members, counselors, or spiritual leaders can be instrumental in helping the patient express these feelings and learn to cope with them in a healthy manner.