How To Counter the Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the most popular treatment for many cancers, as well as the complications of cancer. This is done to reduce the tumor size and stop the unwanted cells from continuously dividing and spreading to other parts of the body. Radiation treatment has a considerable number of side effects and it would be a challenge for any patient undergoing radiation therapy to overcome these side effects, especially while they’re also suffering from ailments related to cancer itself. Therefore, this article suggests ways to minimize the side effects of radiation treatment, so that the patient undergoing therapy will have an easier time dealing with these.

Diarrhea - This is one of the most common side effects experienced by patients undergoing radiation and proton therapy. When the tumor is located the abdominal area or pelvic region, it is common to have digestive issues after the procedure. This is because the cells in this area are very sensitive to radiation. To  alleviate the side effects, a patient can make these adjustments to one’s diet.

  • Eat foods that are easy to digest. Since you will be compromising the function of your digestive system, it would be important to keep your diet very manageable.
  • Take five to six small meals instead of three big ones. The digestive tract could be easily overwhelmed by the traditional three large meals that a person takes in a day.
  • Drink plenty of water. This would allow your body to pass the toxins out more easily.

Fatigue - Fatigue is the general feeling of tiredness or lethargy that anyone without enough energy would experience. This is a very common side effect that can lead to serious psychological problems if not dealt with accordingly. You can address fatigue through the following.

  • Try to get adequate rest. Sleeping six to eight hours every night should give you the extra energy you need to get through the radiation therapy.
  • Try to have a regular low impact exercise program. This would stimulate your body to create more energy-conducive hormones and chemicals.
  • Have yourself counseled by a cancer specialist or another patient with cancer to fully understand that what you’re feeling is normal and is an expected side effect of the treatment.

Hair loss - Losing one's hair may not mean much anatomically, but psychologically, the hair loss can be very traumatizing, especially to a female patient. Here are the ways you can deal with the effects.

  • Cover your head with a hat or a scarf when outdoors. Your head is already taking so much damage and abuse form the radiation, there’s no need to add to it.
  • Consider shaving your head ahead of time so that the psychological pain of having hair fall off will be averted.

Cancer is a tough challenge that a lot of people face. Patients can still experience good quality of life, even while undergoing treatment. Radiation treatment might pose some difficult side effects, but these are manageable, with the right information and some lifestyle adjustments.


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