Managing side effects
During treatment for colorectal cancer, you can do things at home to help manage your side effects and symptoms. If your doctor has given you instructions or medicines to treat these problems, be sure to also use them.
In general, healthy habits such as eating
a balanced diet and getting enough sleep and exercise may help control your
You can try home treatments:
- For nausea or vomiting, such as ginger tea, peppermint candy or gum, or drinking enough fluids so that you don't get dehydrated.
- For diarrhea, such as taking small, frequent sips of water and bites of salty crackers.
- For constipation, such as getting plenty of water and fiber in your diet. Do not use a laxative without first talking to your doctor.
Other problems that can be treated at home include:
- Sleep problems. If you have trouble sleeping, try having a regular bedtime, getting exercise daily,
caffeine late in the day.
- Feeling very tired. If you lack energy or become weak easily, try to get extra rest and plan your schedule to make the most of the energy you have.
- Pain. There are many home treatments that can help when you have pain, such as over-the-counter pain relievers, heat packs, or cold packs.
Talk to your doctor before using any home treatment for
- Mouth sores. This includes watching what you eat and drink and rinsing regularly with mouthwash or an antacid.
Managing stress from having cancer
Having cancer can be very stressful. Finding new ways of coping with your stress may improve your overall quality of life.
These ideas may help:
- Take steps to reduce your stress. Find new ways to relax, such as yoga or
- Get the support you need. Spend time with people who care about you. Let them help you.
- Talk about your feelings. Try
meeting with a counselor or joining a support group where you can share your experience.
- Ask your doctor to help you find other sources
of support and information.
Your feelings about your body may change after treatment.
Dealing with your body image may involve talking
openly with your partner about your worries and discussing your feelings with a
Having cancer can change your life in many ways. For help with managing these changes, see the topic Getting Support When You Have Cancer.
For more information about learning how to live with cancer, read "Taking Time: Support for People With Cancer" from the National Cancer Institute. This booklet is available online at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Kenneth Bark, MD - Surgery, Colon and Rectal
January 29, 2013
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