Chemotherapy uses strong chemicals to help kill cancer cells within your body. Chemo also has a tendency to destroy healthy cells as well, which will result in many side effects such as fatigue. You may feel zapped after chemo treatments for a variety of reasons. Chemo can cause anaemia due to the destruction of red blood cells. Chemo can also cause fatigue due to the lowered levels of carnitine, a type of amino acid produced within your liver and kidneys. Speaking with a physician about how to get back on track after chemo may help you find ways to restore your energy levels.
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Ask your physician about levocarnitine. According to the American Cancer Society, a study conducted on Italian patients in 2002 found that taking levocarnitine restored 45 out of 50 patients' energy levels. That is nearly a 90 per cent improvement rate for the patients who experienced a lack of energy after undergoing chemo.
If you have fatigue due to anaemia, ask your physician about taking iron supplements. You may be given ferrous sulphates which will need to be taken three times a day.
If you're unable to take oral iron supplements when you have anaemia, get iron into your system intravenously. This will allow the iron to be absorbed into your body.
Don't take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen when you're being treated for anaemia. These can exacerbate symptoms, as well as cause irritation to your stomach and lower your blood platelet count.
Consult with a dietitian about the types of foods you should be eating when undergoing chemo. Foods such as fruits and vegetables may help curb your fatigue. It's important to eat healthy during chemo treatment, even when you feel that you've lost all interest in food.
Get rest. When you begin to feel tired, take a short ten-minute nap. Frequent periods of rest will help preserve your energy.
Get plenty of fluids. It's important to not get dehydrated after chemo treatments. Sip fluids such as Gatorade to keep your electrolyte levels up.
Don't be ashamed to ask others for help around the house. Ask family or friends to drive you when you need groceries or when you need to go to your physician's office.
Speak with your physician if your symptoms of fatigue become too debilitating. Your physician may want to monitor you for other possible underlying conditions that may be the cause of your fatigue, such as depression.
Tips and warnings
- Get plenty of rest.
- Let other family members or friends help you with chores and duties around the house until you feel up to doing things yourself.
- Know your limitations.
- Get more fruits and vegetables in your diet to help your body convert the food into the energy necessary for your body.
- Bring a tape recorder to your consultations with your physician so that you don't forget any information that will help you with your treatments.
- Always consult with your physician before taking a supplement in any form.
- If you become exhausted to the point that you're unable to function anymore, immediately seek help.
- Stay away from processed foods, fatty foods, and foods that contain high fructose corn syrup and salt.
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