Radiation therapy is one of the most advanced treatment procedures used nowadays. While going through the therapy, the patients might experience a number of side effects. Some of them can be mild enough while others may be severe. It mostly depends upon the frequency of radiation and the body area for which the radiation is given. The common side effects of radiation therapy are described below:
Fatigue or exhaustion is the most common side effect of radiation therapy. But, the extent of fatigue could differ from patient to patient according to their level of energy. Though in most of the cases it is mild, frequent fatigue can affect patients undergoing the therapy for several weeks. Enough rest, restricted activities, proper sleep at night and intake of healthy nourishing food can raise the energy level in the patients considerably.
Several skin problems
Radiation therapy can cause certain visible skin changes. The skin exposed to radiation might get reddish, tanned or even like sunburned. It can also become extremely sensitive and hence develop dryness, itchiness or irritation, blisters, and even peeling skin. To deal with these problems, some precautions should be taken by the patients. Always clean the affected area with a gentle soap and water. Use a soft towel only to pat dry the skin. Long time sun exposure, tight fit attire, aromatic perfumes or body lotions etc. should be strictly avoided during the treatment. However, these are absolutely temporary and would be healed automatically just within 2-3 weeks after finishing the treatment.
Loss of appetite
It is another common upshot of radiation therapy that leads to weakness and nutritional deficit in due course. The patients need to take small meals all through the day and consume lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in order to maintain the level of energy, vitamins and nutrients in their body. After the treatment, the condition will get much better.
Serious deficiency of blood cells
While undergoing radiation therapy, patients can suffer from serious blood cell deficiency too. In this situation, the numbers of white blood cells as well as platelets go severely down. As it weakens the immune system by making it prone to virus and bacteria, the blood counts of the patients should be tested frequently.
Short-term hair loss
When a person, diagnosed with head or neck cancer, is treated with high doses of radiation therapy, he or she might lose hair temporarily in bunches. However, this problem goes away along with the end of the treatment and the hair grows back, sometimes with different color as well as texture.
Temporary hearing problems
If radiation is used to treat the affected region just around the ear, the wax present inside the ear might get hardened and the patients might develop certain short-term hearing problem. The doctor should be consulted to get rid of this trouble.
Tendency for nausea or vomiting
Sometimes patients need to go through radiation therapy accompanied by chemotherapy for a better result. In such cases, they might experience some regular consequences like nausea and vomiting.
It is a wise idea to seek the advice of physician, and get informed about the measures need to be taken to prevent all these minor as well as major side effects, before going for radiation therapy.