Fatigue During Radiation Therapy

 In Blog, Cancer Care Center Blog, Cancer Care Center News

During radiation therapy, your body uses a lot of energy dealing with the effects of radiation on normal cells. Fatigue during radiation therapy usually builds up slowly during the course of treatment, particularly towards the end, and may last for a few weeks after treatment finishes. Many people find that they can’t do as much, but others are able to continue their usual activities without much change. Fatigue is a common side effect, and there is a chance you might feel some level of fatigue from radiation therapy. Fatigue from radiation therapy can range from a mild to an extreme feeling of being tired. Many people describe fatigue as feeling weak, weary, worn out, heavy, or slow.

Some ways the following may help you save your energy:
• Be active but try not to rush
• Plan ahead where possible
• Give yourself plenty of time to get places
• Put chairs around the house so you can stop and rest if necessary
• Sit down to dry off after a bath or put on a toweling dressing gown and let that do the work
• Prepare your clothes and lay them out in one place before you dress
• Sit down to put most of your clothes on
• When dressing, try not to bend down too much – bring your foot up on to your knee to put socks and shoes on
• When dressing, fasten your bra at the front first and then turn it to the back
• Wear loose fitting clothes and things with few buttons to do up
• Where possible do household tasks sitting down, such as peeling vegetables or ironing
• Choose clothes that are low maintenance, clothes that don’t need ironing for example
• Make house hold choirs less strenuous , such as using a duster on a long stick and sit to do your dusting
• Write a list of shopping and go when the supermarket is not busy or have food delivered
• If you have children, play games with them that can be done sitting or lying down – for example, board games, reading books and drawing pictures
• Ask family and friends for help with things like shopping, housework and collecting the children from school
• You may find it easier to have lots of small meals, rather than the traditional 3 meals a day
• Have plenty of nutritious snacks and drinks in stock that you can have whenever you feel like eating
• Don’t forget to do things that you enjoy – this may take your mind off things a bit and make you feel more relaxed

So we talked about ways to help you save energy. Now lets talk about some ways to help you get you energy back if you are feeling tired!

Yoga can help with improved mental energy as well as physical energy.  For a nice discussion about yoga in cancer therapy, click here.

Get active. Drink water. Water keeps you hydrated, which gives you energy.  Breathe deeply. This will allow your body to regain awareness and give you a chance to become emotionally well. Do some yoga. If you used a lot of energy you can do yoga to regain it faster. Eat food that releases energy over a prolonged period of time like a banana. When you get hungry between meals, eat healthy snacks (instead of junk food) or foods that contain protein and healthy fats.  For a detailed discussion about nutrition and cancer, read this.

Pour cold water over each wrist. This gets your blood circulating. Balance rest and activities. Try not to spend too much time in bed, which can make you feel weak. Schedule activities so that you have time for plenty of rest. Most people find that a few short rest periods are better than one long one.

Do small tasks first. This will save your energy for the big things later. Do not procrastinate! Putting off tasks will deplete you of time and motivation, get the work done and then have fun. Wash cold water over your face. The cold will wake you up and the shock your face and a shock to your sensory neurons that sends nerves to the relay that sends it to the motor neurons.

Things to remember:

Learn from others who have cancer. People who have cancer can help each other by sharing ways to manage fatigue. One way to meet other people with cancer is by joining a support group – either in person or online. Talk with your doctor to learn more about support groups.

Talk with your doctor. If you have trouble dealing with fatigue, your doctor will have ways that can help decrease fatigue, give you a sense of well-being, and increase your appetite. Activity and nutrition are an important part of putting more energy into your daily life.

A recent study presented as ASCO 2017 in Chicago, IL discussed the use of Ginseng daily in addition to a standard chemotherapy regimen and found that the patients who took 2 grams of Ginseng daily had significant improvements in their daily energy and ability to engage in activities.  This offers an attractive natural and holistic way to combat fatigue during radiation therapy or any cancer treatment.  For a more detailed discussion about various herbal treatments and ayurveda, you can go here.

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