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Side Effects of
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Incontinence - Urinary
Dryness of the Mouth
Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances
Nausea & Vomiting
Spinal Cord Compression
Shortness of Breath
Sleep Problems (Insomnia/Oversleeping)
Symptom and Description Except for
the cause, flulike syndrome (FLS) is much like the flu. Your
symptoms of fever, chills, headaches, body aches, and nasal
stuffiness are expected side-effects of your treatment. Any or
all bones, joints, and muscles may hurt. Fever may be mild or
severe. Chills may occur—especially when the fever begins—that
may range from feeling cold to your teeth chattering or body
shaking. These shakes usually don’t last more than a few
minutes, but your temperature will almost always increase
afterward. You may feel washed out or sweaty afterward. Muscle
soreness is also a problem after severe shaking. Usually, the
worst symptoms happen in the first few days after treatment has
been started. As your body adjusts, your symptoms will probably
be less severe. You are at risk of having FLS because of your
cancer therapy, specifically the drug.
Learning Needs You need to learn how to manage these
side-effects at home. You also need to know when to call your
doctor or nurse.
Prevention It is difficult to prevent this syndrome. Some
helpful hints to reduce the symptoms include:
- Getting your drug in the evening, which allows you to be
active before treatment.
- Getting your drug late, which can help you sleep through
- Taking medications before or after treatment to help
prevent these side-effects.
- Making sure that you wear comfortable clothing to bed.
- Wearing layers of clothing, so that if you feel warm you
can remove some.
- Having plenty of blankets and a heating pad nearby, in
case you feel cold at night.
Management For side-effects that cannot be prevented,
here are some ideas on how to manage them at home.
- Some people find that relaxation techniques, mental
imaging, biofeedback, or massage help them to relax and
better tolerate the symptoms of FLS.
- Plan your activities before you receive your medicine, so
there is less to do when you have side-effects.
- Keep your nutrition up by eating regular, healthy meals.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Ask your doctor or nurse for more information if you are
interested in trying relaxation exercises.
- Have an easy-to-read thermometer.
- Take and record your temperature in the morning, at
bedtime, after a chill, and any time you feel warm.
- Acetaminophen, 650 mg, can be taken every 4 hours until
your temperature returns to below 38.3 C (101 F).
- Notify your doctor or nurse if your temperature stays at
40.0 C (104 F) or greater and does not come down with
- Avoid chilling yourself.
- You may apply cool compresses or ice packs or take tepid
baths to feel refreshed and lower your temperature.
- Keep yourself as warm as possible during these episodes.
- A heating pad or hot water bottle may help.
- Notify your doctor or nurse if these episodes last longer
than usual, or if you feel any shortness of breath during a
shaking period or afterward.
Aches (headaches, joint aches, muscle aches):
- Taking medication for pain as prescribed by your doctor or
acetaminophen—650 mg every 4 to 6 hours—should give some
- A dark and quiet environment is often helpful.
- Applying cool compresses to your forehead or warm
compresses to the back of your neck may also help, depending
on where the pain is located.
- Notify your doctor or nurse if you notice any visual
changes or dizziness with your headaches.
- Also call the doctor if the pain is in the neck and you
can’t touch your chin to your chest.
- Get plenty of rest—don’t overdo when you are having
- Sometimes fun activities will help get your mind off the
pain. Reading, sewing, listening to music, and watching TV
are a few ideas you may try.
- Notify your doctor or nurse if you notice increased
stiffness or difficulty in walking or in getting up or
sitting or lying down.
- Antihistamines and cough preparations are usually helpful.
Ask your doctor to suggest medicines you can take if needed.
- Drink plenty of fluids—try to drink at least eight
glasses of fluid per day.
- Avoid excess dryness in the home, but be certain that
humidifiers are cleaned every few days.
- If you are coughing up yellow or green phlegm, notify
doctor or nurse.
Follow-up Be sure you understand what to expect, what to
do about it, and when to call your doctor or nurse. Have
emergency phone numbers available. Be able to discuss these
plans with your nurse before you go home. If you are unsure of
any of the instructions, be sure to clarify them with your
doctor and nurse. Keep a log or diary of your symptoms, how long
they last, what you did about them, and how well the methods
worked to get rid of the symptoms.