Adverse Reactions

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Side Effects of Radiation Therapy:

Although patients do not feel anything during a radiation treatment, the effects of radiation gradually build up over time. Most patients have very few initial side effects; however, many patients experience fatigue as treatment continues. The vast widely held of patients are able to complete radiation therapy without important difficulty. Side effects and potential complications of radiation therapy are infrequent and, when they do occur, are typically limited to the areas that are receiving treatment with radiation. The opportunity of experiencing side effects, however, is highly variable. A dose that causes some discomfort in one patient may cause no side effects in other patients. If side effects occur, you should inform the technologists and radiation oncologist, because treatment is almost always available and efficient. Side effects are usually temporary and resolve once the radiation is completed.    

   
There are actually two kinds of side effects from radiation therapy early and late. Early side effects, such as nausea or fatigue, are usually temporary. They develop during or right after treatment and last for several weeks after treatment ends, but then improve. Late side effects, such as lung or heart problems, may take years to develop and are often permanent when they do.


The most common early side effects from radiation therapy are fatigue and skin problems. Other early side effects such as hair loss and nausea are typically specific to the site being treated and others are mentioned below.


Mouth Problems:


Before you start radiation to the head or neck, see your dentist for a thorough exam to help reduce subsequent problems once therapy starts. Radiation can cause problems in your mouth that include:


1. Lack of saliva


2. sores


3. Thickened saliva


4. Difficulty swallowing


5. Jaw stiffness


It's important to tell your cancer team about any of these problems so they can help reduce the discomfort you feel. To help manage these side effects:


1) Avoid spicy and acidic foods.


2) Don't smoke, chew tobacco, or drink alcohol.


3) Brush your teeth often with fluoride toothpaste and a soft brush.


Hearing Problems:


Radiation therapy to the head can cause hearing difficulties. One possible cause is hardening of the wax in your ears caused by radiation.  


Nausea:


Radiation to the head, neck, and any part of the digestive tract can cause nausea and vomiting. Let your doctor know if that occurs because there are medicines you can use to help control nausea. Also, the doctor or the nurse may help you learn relaxation techniques and biofeedback to help control and reduce feelings of nausea.


Diarrhoea:


Radiation therapy to the stomach or abdomen can cause diarrhoea, which typically starts a few weeks after starting the therapy. The doctor will likely prescribe medications to help control the diarrhoea as well as suggest changes in your diet such as eating frequent small meals, avoiding high-fiber foods, and being sure to get enough potassium.


Fertility and Sexual Issues:


Radiation therapy in the region of the pelvis can affect your fertility and your sex drive. It's also important not to try to become pregnant during radiation therapy because radiation can hurt the foetus. Radiation therapy of the pelvic region can cause women to stop having menstrual periods and to experience other symptoms of menopause. It's important to talk with your doctor about what kind of effect radiation might have on your ability to have children in the future.


In men, radiation in an area that includes the testes can affect the sperm count as well as the functionality of the sperm. This doesn't necessarily mean you can't father a child. But if you want to have children later, you should talk with your doctor about considering the use of a sperm bank before treatment begins.


Treatment to the pelvis can cause sexual intercourse to be painful for some women and can also cause scarring that affects the ability of the vagina to stretch. In men, radiation can affect the nerves and blood vessels that make an erection possible. You should discuss your concerns with your doctor before treatment begins to learn about your options and possible outcomes.


It's natural to have less interest in sex when undergoing treatment for cancer. But typically your sex drive will reawaken after treatment stops. Talk with your spouse and share your concerns about the need for being close.


 Questions:

1. What is the most occurring adverse reactions?
a) Skin reaction
b) Nausea
c) Diarrhoea
d) All

2. Radiation can hurt the foetus is true or false?
a) True
b) False


Answers:

1. d) All
2. a) True



References:

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