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Chemotherapy Side Effects - Understanding what they are

The side effects of chemo generally depend on the type of therapy being offered and amount of drugs being used. Some chemotherapy side effects cease after treatment. Some treatments  produce long-term effects.

Chemotherapy acts by killing cells that divide rapidly, (fast growing cells).  This is one of the main properties of cancer cells.   This means that it also harms cells that divide rapidly under normal circumstances: cells in the bone marrow, digestive tract and hair follicles; this results in the most common side-effects of chemotherapy–decreased production of blood cells, inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract) and hair loss. 

One of the most debilitating of these side effects is neuropathy, or nerve damage.  For more information on  neuropathy, see Chemo Induced Neuropathy.    For what to take to help this side effect go to  Just tell me what to take for chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy

For treatments for other side effects see Treatments

Side Effects:

Abdominal Pain - this can be a dull ache, cramping, or sharp pain. Chemo can cause both increased (rapid) and decreased (slow) motility of the intestines resulting in the digestion process moving too quickly or too slowly through the intestines. Going too quickly can result in cramps and diarrhea. Going too slowly can result in the backup, putrification with resultant toxicity and gas (flatulence). Chemo can destroy the normal bacteria and flora necessary for proper digestion. The food is not properly broken down for digestion

Acid Indigestion
Acid Reflux
Allergic Reactions
Alopecia - Loss of hair.  See Hair loss 
Anaphylasix
Anemia - Chemo drugs are designed to effect fast growing cells. Bone marrow is  where blood cells are made.  It is supposed to replace worn out blood cells.  Thus, as worn out cells die, there is not enough replacement cells, thus leading to anemia. 
Anxiety
Appetite, Lack Of
Arthralgias
Asthenia
Ataxia
Arthralgias
Asthenia
Ataxia - the drug effects nerve cells.  Nerve cells are very sensitive as they are the communication line of the body which relays messages including feeling.   The nerve cells are actually more sensitive to the chemo drug then the cancer cells. When the nerve damaged is a nerve connected to a motor nerve, the body's balance and coordination is effected.  Ataxia is defined as "inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements; unsteady movements and staggering gait"
Azotemia

Natural remedies and treatments to help reduce the damaging side effects of chemotherapy - See Treatments

Balance & Mobility Changes - See Ataxia above
Bilirubin Blood Level
Bone Pain
Bladder Problems
Bleeding Problems
Blood Clots - When chemotherapy kills cancer cells, the cells can release substances that cause an increase in blood clotting (coagulation).
This article explains the symptoms and also the reason the Chemotherapy can cause blood clots
Blood Pressure Changes
Blood Test Abnormalities
Breathing Problems 
Bronchitis
Bruising

Cancer - mostly from radiation therapy
Cardiotoxicity
Cardovascular Events
Cataracts
Central Neurotoxicity

Chemo Brain - This is also called Chemo Fog. The latest findings on this indicates that it is due to a nerve damage in the brain. If this is the case, it is worth checking out our nerve damage recommendation You can read about these findings on Chemo Brain      To read more about what to do about Chemo Brain  There is also an article on some recent Chemo Brain Research

Chest Pain
Chills - See Anemia
Cognitive Problems 
Cold Symptoms
Confusion - See Chemo Brain
Conjunctivitis
Constipation
Cough
Cramping
Cystitis

Natural remedies and treatments to help reduce the damaging side effects of chemotherapy - See Treatments

Deep Vein Thrombosis
Dehydration
Depression
Diarrhea
Dizziness
Drug Reaction
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry Mouth
Dry Skin - Skin are fast growing cells.   The toxins in chemotherapy are designed to kill fast growing cells as cancer are fast growing cells.   Thus the new layer of skin is being damaged. 
Dyspepsia
Dyspenia

Early Satiety
Edema

Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) Changes
Electrolyte Imbalance

Esophagitis
Eye Problems 

Fatigue
Feeling Faint
Fertility
Fever
Flatulence - goes with abdominal pain, see above.
Flu-like Symptoms - See Anemia
Flushing

Natural remedies and treatments to help reduce the damaging side effects of chemotherapy - See Treatments

Gas
Gastric Reflux
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Genital Pain
Glaucoma
Granulocytopenia
Gynecomastia

Hair Loss - Chemo drugs are target fast growing cells as cancer cells are fast growing cells. Hair is fast growing cells and thus there is hair loss. 
Hand-Foot Syndrome
Headache
Hearing Loss - the chemo drugs damage the tiny hair cells in the inner ear that vibrate in response to sound waves. It is called ototoxicity
Hearing Problems 
Heart Failure
Heart Palpitations
Heart Problems
Heart Rhythm Changes
Heart Burn
Hematoma
Hemorrhagic Cystitis
Hepatotoxicity
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High Liver Enzymes
Hyperamylasemia (High Amylase)
Hypercalcemia (High Calcium)
Hyperchloremia (High Chloride)
Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar)
Hyperkalemia (High Potassium)
Hyperlipasemia (High Lipase)
Hypermagnesemia (High Magnesium)
Hypernatremia (High Sodium)
Hyperphosphatemia (High Phosphous)
Hyperpigmentation
Hypersensitivity Skin Reactions
Hypertriglyceridemia (High Triglycerides)
Hyperuricemia (High Uric Acid)
Hypoalbuminemia (Low Albumin)
Hypocalcemia (Low Calcium)
Hypochloremia (Low Chloride)
Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)
Hypokalemia (Low Potassium)
Hypomagnesemia (Low Magnesium)
Hyponatremia (Low Sodium)
Hypophosphatemia (Low Phosphous)

Natural remedies and treatments to help reduce the damaging side effects of chemotherapy - See Treatments

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Impotenance
Incoordination
Infection
Injection Site Reactions
Injury
Insomnia
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Itching

Joint Pain

Kidney Problems - Certain chemo drugs can be harmful if it builds up in the body, causing liver and kidney damage, rashes and damage to the intestines

Leukopenia
Libido, Loss of
Liver Dysfunction
Liver Problems
Low Blood Counts
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)
Low Platelet Count
Low Red blood Cell Count - See Anemia
Low White Blood Cell Count
Lung Problems

Natural remedies and treatments to help reduce the damaging side effects of chemotherapy - See Treatments

Memory Loss 
Menopause
Metallic Taste
Mouth Sores
Mucositis
Muscle Pain
Myalgias
Myelosuppression
Myocariditis

Nail Changes
Nausea - ginger helps this side effect
Nephrotoxicity
Nervousness
Neuropathy
Neutropenia
Neutropenic Fever
Nosebleeds

Ototoxicity

Natural remedies and treatments to help reduce the damaging side effects of chemotherapy - See Treatments

Pain
Palmer-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia (PPE)
Pancytopenia
Pericarditis
Peripheral Neuropathy
Pharyngitis
Photophobia
Photosensitivity
Pneumonia
Pneumonitis
Post-nasal Drip
Proteinuria
Pulmonary Embolus (PE)
Pulmonary Fibrosis
Pulmonary Toxicity

Radiation Recall
Rash
Rapid Heart Beat
Rectal Bleeding
Restlessness
Rhinitis
Ringing Ears (Tinnitus)
Runny Nose

Sadness
Seizures
Sexuality
Shortness of Breath
Sinusistis
Skin Reactions
Sleep Problems 
Sore Mouth
Stomach Sour
Stomach Upset
Stomatitis
Swelling

Natural remedies and treatments to help reduce the damaging side effects of chemotherapy - See Treatments

Taste Changes
Thrombocytopenia
Thyroid Hormone Levels
Tingling 
Tinnitus
Trouble Sleeping

Urinary Tract Infection

Vaginal Bleeding
Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal Infection
Vertigo
Vomiting

Water Retention
Watery Eyes
Weakness
Weight Changes
Weight Gain
Weight Loss
Xerostomia

Natural remedies and treatments to help reduce the damaging side effects of chemotherapy - See Treatments

 

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