A Cancer Patient’s Guide to Chemotherapy and Dehydration
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Know the Symptoms of Dehydration and Ways to Prevent It
Patients undergoing chemotherapy often find themselves dehydrated. Since the treatment brings side effects such as heavy sweating, fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, it’s not uncommon for cancer sufferers to experience excessive loss of fluids and electrolytes in their bodies. With the lack of essential fluids, the body won’t be able to function properly, eventually shutting down when left untreated.
Symptoms of Dehydration
So, how can you tell if your body’s dehydrated? Here are its telltale signs:
- Decrease in urine output
- Dry mouth
- Often thirsty
- Dry skin
- Dizziness or headache
- Difficulty in swallowing dry foods
- Dark urine
- Crinkled or loose skin
- Thick or dry secretions
How Chemotherapy Leads to Dehydration
While chemotherapy kills cancer cells, the treatment adversely affects your health. Diarrhea and vomiting are two of the most common reactions that can result in severe dehydration.
Your treatment can also cause you to lose your appetite or sense of thirst, which makes it even more difficult for you to replenish your body with important fluids. Additionally, you might experience sore throat from your chemo sessions, which can further discourage you from drinking. Fever is another side effect that you can get from chemotherapy, leading to you sweating more frequently than usual.
Ways to Prevent Dehydration
Drinking plenty of water is the best way to combat dehydration as you undergo chemotherapy. Other than that, here are several other preventive measures you should apply before, during, and after your treatment:
- Try other liquids.
If you’re tired of the same bland taste of water, you can always go for other drinks like juice, tea, decaf coffee, milk, or sports drinks. Just be sure that you get at least eight glasses of water.
- Eat foods rich in fluids.
We’re talking about soups, broths, yogurts, fruits, and vegetables. Frozen pops and gelatin wouldn’t hurt, either!
- Suck on small ice chips.
Your cancer care team might suggest you suck on tiny pieces of ice if you’re still having trouble swallowing foods.
- Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages.
Any drink high in caffeine causes frequent urination, which is why you must try to avoid them at all costs. If you’ve always relied on coffee to get you through the day, try reducing your intake to only one cup a day.
- Track your fluid intake and output.
To make things easier for you when you consult with your doctor, keep a record of your fluid activity every day. On a notebook, log how many ounces you drink and how many times you experience diarrhea or vomiting.
When to See Your Doctor
Should you encounter any of the situations below, call your doctor right away to schedule an appointment:
- Little to no urine output for 12 hours or more
- Urine appears darker
- Fever higher than 100.4o F
- Signs of confusion or dizziness
- Excessive sleepiness
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