Tips For Helping Your Spouse Cope With The Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy

Posted on: 3 October 2016

If your spouse was diagnosed with cancer, one of the treatment options the doctors might recommend is radiation therapy. This is a common form of treatment used for cancer, and it works by aiming radiation at the cancerous cells. The radiation can often kill these cells; however, there can be side effects with radiation therapy. Before your spouse begins radiation therapy, it might be good for you to understand what these side effects are so that you may be able to help him or her recover after the treatments.

The Side Effects Will Relate To The Body Part Where There Is Cancer

While there can be some general side effects of radiation, most of the side effects will relate to the body part that received the radiation therapy. For cancer that is located in the neck or head, the patient might feel pain in these areas. He or she may also experience dry mouth or problems with his or her jaw. When cancer is located in the chest or abdomen area, the person might have trouble breathing, stiffness in these body parts, or diarrhea.

In most cases, people will also experience nausea and vomiting after having radiation treatments too. Experiencing extreme fatigue is another common effect of radiation, and some people may also lose their hair after having this done. The side effects of the radiation do not always appear right away, but they may start appearing a few weeks after the treatments begin.

There Are Ways To Help A Person Get Through This

While side effects are a normal part of radiation, there are things your spouse can do that may help him or her get through these problems after having radiation. Here are some of the options the doctor might recommend using to relieve some of the symptoms your spouse has after radiation:

  • The right foods – Focusing on a good, healthy diet is vital after radiation. The radiation therapy is designed to kill cancerous cells, but it can also kill healthy cells. Because of this, eating right may help your spouse recover faster and start feeling better faster. Some great foods to give your spouse include fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Acupuncture – This is considered a natural form of treatment and is used for many things. Acupuncture may be helpful in reducing the feelings of nausea, and it can help decrease pain.
  • Natural herbs – There are a variety of natural herbs and supplements that doctors might recommend using after radiation, and each is designed to help with nausea, fatigue, and vomiting. Some of these are ginger and caraway seeds.
  • Exercise – While your spouse might not feel like exercising after radiation, it could be extremely helpful in fighting the fatigue that generally accompanies radiation therapy. If your spouse decides to do this, encourage him or her to start light and work up to longer and more intense workouts.

In addition, your spouse's doctor might recommend the use of medication after radiation to help with the side effects. The most common medication used for this purpose is called radioprotective drugs. These can help with certain types of cancers and can help decrease the side effects; however, there is not a lot of research with these yet, so many doctors are not yet using them.

Radiation therapy is a great way to treat many types of cancer, but it is not without side effects. If you would like to help your spouse get through this as easily as possible, keep in touch with the doctors and try to learn as much as you can about helping your spouse through this difficult time. For more information, contact a clinic like Firelands Regional Medical Center.