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Facing a disease that requires chemotherapy is difficult enough, and dealing with the side effects that accompany chemotherapy only adds another level of stress. However, knowing about these side effects in advance can help people find ways to minimize some of the discomfort they bring.

One common side effect of most chemotherapy regimens is fatigue. Patients dealing with this should allow themselves time to rest often during the day, prioritize their activities instead of trying to get everything done at once and ask others for help when possible. Another common side effect is disruption to the digestive system, which may result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Patients who experience these symptoms need to take their prescribed anti-nausea medication, drink enough fluids and eat foods that are easier to digest.

The side effects associated with many types of chemotherapy are uncomfortable and inconvenient, but it is possible to reduce their impact. Patients should consult with their physicians to learn which side effects to expect and how to deal with them.

How Chemotherapy Affects a Patient's Weight and Appetite

Chemotherapy is a specific drug therapy that is used to stop or reverse the progression of cancer. Usually, chemotherapy is administered intravenously over a period of time. Chemotherapy works by targeting and destroying cells that divide rapidly, such as cancer cells. Unfortunately, this also means that normal, healthy cells are also destroyed or harmed. This destruction of cells often results in adverse side effects, including loss of appetite and weight loss.

Weight loss and loss of appetite

Usually, any weight loss experienced during chemotherapy is due to a decrease in appetite. This loss of appetite is caused by many things. Sometimes, a chemotherapy patient simply no longer feels hungry. Foods may begin to taste slightly different. Chemotherapy can also cause several side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and indigestion that may cause a patient to want to eat less. Some medications can stop these side effects, but they themselves may cause other side effects that can decrease a patient’s appetite. Chemotherapy can also cause pain or inflammation in the mouth, which may make it difficult for a patient to eat.

Coping with side effects

It is important for chemotherapy patients to maintain as healthy an appetite as possible, even when they do not feel like eating. Eating several snacks or small meals throughout the day can often help to keep a patient on track with his or her diet. Taking small bites or small sips of a drink may help a patient feel less nauseous.

Although it can sometimes have terrible side effects, it is important for people on chemotherapy to remain as healthy as possible otherwise. Eating as healthy a diet as possible and keeping a positive mental outlook keeps patients strong through the treatment.

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