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How Long Does Fatigue Last After Chemo And Radiation

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Can A Dietitian Help Me Fight Cancer Fatigue


Dietitians can provide suggestions to work around any symptoms that may be interfering with caloric intake. They can help you find ways to take in calories despite an early feeling of fullness, swallowing difficulty or taste changes. Dietitians can also suggest ways of maximizing calories and proteins in smaller amounts of food. They may suggest powdered milk, instant breakfast drinks and other commercial supplements or food additives.

Talk With Your Healthcare Provider

The first step is talking with your healthcare provider about what youre feeling. When talking with your healthcare provider, it can be helpful to describe how your fatigue affects your daily activities and routines. For example, saying I was so tired that I couldnt work for 3 days is more helpful than saying I was really tired.

Whats Normal And Whats Not

Fatigue related to cancer and cancer treatment is not at all uncommon. Most people get over fatigue within a few months to a year following treatment. But there are a lot of moving parts to your life, so your experience will be unique to you.

With each treatment, youll have an opportunity to talk things over with your oncology team. They can gauge whether your fatigue falls within a normal range. If not, they can look for a cause and offer treatment.

A 2014 research review suggested that a quarter to a third of cancer survivors have persistent fatigue, lasting up to 10 years post-diagnosis. The longer it goes on, the more it can affect daily routines.

If youre still experiencing fatigue 6 months after treatment, follow up with your oncologist or family doctor.

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Can Sleep Be Improved To Reduce Cancer Fatigue

Sleep is an important part of wellness. Good sleep can improve your mental and physical health. Several factors contribute to how well you sleep, and there are things you can do to improve your sleep, including:

  • Doing relaxation exercises, meditation or relaxation yoga before going to sleep.
  • Avoiding long afternoon naps.
  • Going to bed only when sleepy. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sexual activities.
  • Setting a consistent time to lie down and get up.
  • Avoiding caffeine and stimulating activities in the evening.
  • Establishing a relaxing pre-sleep routine.

What The Patient Can Do

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  • Rest, but not too much. Plan your day so you have time to rest. Take short naps or rest breaks , rather than one long nap during the day. Too much rest can lower your energy level and make it harder to sleep at night.
  • Certain drugs used to treat pain, nausea, or depression can make a person feel tired and sleepy. Talk with your cancer care team about this. Sometimes adjusting the doses or changing to a different drug can help.
  • Talk to your health care team about any problems with your nutritional intake
  • Regular moderate exercise especially walking is a good way to ease fatigue. Talk to your doctor about the right exercise plan for you.
  • Ask your family or friends to help with the things you find tiring or too hard to do.
  • Try to sleep 7 to 8 hours each night. Sleep experts tell us that having regular times to go to bed and get up helps us keep a healthy sleep routine.
  • Each day, prioritize decide which things are most important to you and focus on those tasks. Then plan ahead. Spread activities throughout the day and take breaks. Do things slowly, so that you wont use too much energy at once
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Avoid exercising too late in the evening.

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Can You Survive Radiation Poisoning

Depending on how much radiation is absorbed, the answer to the question Can you survive radiation poisoning is a resounding no. While a single exposure of 400 rads can kill 50% of humans, repeated exposures of three to ten times this amount can cause more serious side effects. While a single high dose of radiation causes immediate damage to cells and tissues, it is also used in cancer treatments to eliminate tumour cells. Regardless of the type of ionizing radiation exposure, people who have suffered a lethal dose have few chances of survival. They are treated with medications that control the symptoms and keep them under observation, so they can be kept under close surveillance.

Acute radiation syndrome occurs in a few hours after exposure, and symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and anemia. Acute radiation syndrome is a potentially fatal condition. It is not uncommon to have a weakened immune system. Symptoms of acute radiodermatitis can appear 24 hours after exposure and may not appear until several days later, depending on the dose. If not treated, the symptoms can cause death.

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How Is Cancer Fatigue Managed Or Treated

The first step in treating fatigue is knowing the problem exists. Many people don’t bother to mention fatigue to their doctors because they believe it is normal. It’s vital that you discuss this and all symptoms or side effects with your healthcare provider. Then, efforts can be directed at determining the cause of the problem and prescribing appropriate treatment. Your particular cancer treatment regimen, with its known side effects, may provide clues for your doctor or health care professional. A simple blood test, for example, can determine if you are anemic.

There is no single medication available to treat fatigue. However, there are medications available that can treat some of the underlying causes.

When youre struggling, you may want to see a palliative care specialist. These experts help people with cancer manage symptoms like pain, nausea and depression.

Your provider or palliative care team may recommend these actions to ease fatigue:

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Can You Take A Break From Radiation

When undergoing radiation therapy, you may experience side effects like nausea or vomiting. Your doctor may suggest that you limit certain activities, such as exercise, to minimize the chance of triggering a reaction. But youre not required to stop all treatment your cancer symptoms and pain management can continue even when youre not receiving radiation treatments. You can take a break from radiation for a day or two if you feel the need.

A short break from radiation treatment is an important way to rest your body. Although youll be treated for a specific length of time, a break from the treatments can help your body recover. Your body needs to rest and recover, so its important to keep busy and avoid scheduling conflicts. In addition, you should wear loose-fitting clothing to minimize the risk of developing skin rashes. The longer you stay in the hospital, the greater the chances of developing complications.

If you cant go without treatments, you can always take a break from your treatment schedule. Your staff members will make every effort to work out a schedule that fits your schedule. However, short-term interruptions are unlikely to reduce the effectiveness of treatment. If you miss a session, you can always make it up by adding another. If youre feeling uncomfortable, wear loose-fitting clothes that wont irritate your skin.

Why Does Radiation Therapy Cause Fatigue

Coping with fatigue after cancer treatment Ruth’s story

Fatigue occurs during radiation therapy because the body is working hard to repair damage to healthy cells incurred during treatment. The degree of fatigue generally varies depending on the amount of tissue irradiated, as well as the location.

But radiation therapy may not be the sole culprit of fatigue: it can be a result of cancer itself or the mental stress associated with being a cancer patient. Certain medications, such as those to prevent and treat nausea, can also be responsible for fatigue. It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact cause because there are many factors in cancer treatment that can all be responsible.

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Tips For Boosting Or Saving Energy

Taking shortcuts on some things or getting help from other people can help you to feel less tired.

Some research into treating tiredness shows that it is important to balance exercise with resting. The amount you do depends on how much youre used to exercising. Pick the time of day when you are feeling least tired.

If youre feeling very tired there are some things you can do to help depending on your circumstances:

  • Drink plenty of water.

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How Long After Chemo Does Your Body Get Back To Normal

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to a timeframe. Everyone is different and the amount of time you spend recovering depends on multiple factors.

Even though theres not set amount of time to fixate on, theres a lot you can do to help yourself move forward:

Self-Nourishment Much like food feeds your body, experiences feed your soul. Its important to give yourself exactly what you need at any given time. Want to take that nap you used to feel guilty about? Go for it! Read new books, listen to new music, pay attention to your needs, and most of all enjoy yourself.

Socialize You might be feeling a bit low after treatment has been completed, which is common. Surround yourself with a solid support system this can come in the form of family, friends, or an actual support group. Joining a group with other survivors will help forge a connection with others who have had similar experiences.

Set Goals Your survival gives you a second chance at life a chance to focus on what truly matters most to you. This could be as small as writing in a journal every day or walking every morning, or as large as starting your own business out of your home. Whatever the case may be, setting goals for yourself will feel you with an overwhelming sense of positivity and accomplishment.

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Articles On Cancer Pain Fatigue & Mental Health

Fatigue is often confused with tiredness. Tiredness happens to everyone — it’s a feeling you expect after certain activities or at the end of the day. Usually, you know why you are tired and a good night’s sleep solves the problem.

Fatigue is a daily lack of energy it is excessive whole-body tiredness not relieved by sleep. It can last for a short time or stay around for longer . Fatigue can prevent you from functioning normally and gets in the way of things you enjoy or need to do.

Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its treatment. It is not predictable by tumor type, treatment, or stage of illness. Usually, it comes on suddenly, does not result from activity or exertion, and is not relieved by rest or sleep. It is often described as “paralyzing” and may continue even after treatment is complete.

Nausea Vomiting And Taste Changes


You may experience nausea and vomiting after your last chemotherapy treatment. It should go away in 2 to 3 weeks.

Your appetite may continue to be affected due to taste changes you may have experienced during your treatment. Your taste should go back to normal 1 to 2 months after chemotherapy. In the meantime, there are things you can do to help with these changes. Talk with your nurse if youd like more information.

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Why Am I Tired After Radiation Therapy

A cancer diagnosis changes your life. Depending on the type of cancer, treatments may include chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, surgery, immunotherapy and radiation therapy, or a multidisciplinary approach that includes many of these treatments. In the series of tests and treatments one may produce unpleasant side effects, including excessive fatigue or tiredness. Radiation therapy tends to increase the feeling of fatigue, leaving many to question why, and what can be done about it.


How Cancer Treatment Causes Fatigue

Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, hormone therapy, immunotherapythese treatments and their common side effects challenge the body, and the body needs energy to recover.

When you start a new treatment, the body produces cytokines to help boost the immune response. When cells die, the body works to clean up those dying cells, causing inflammation. Its a desirable response in this case, but inflammationboth acute and chronicalso causes fatigue.

You can compare this fatigue to how you feel when your body fights the flu or another infection, like COVID-19. While your bodys working hard to fight the infection, you feel tired.

How and when you experience fatigue from cancer treatment may vary according to the treatment youre receiving and its side effects.

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What You Can Do About Cancer

  • be aware of your own warning signs of fatigue, for example, a loss of appetite, low mood, difficulty concentrating
  • help others to understand and let them support you
  • talk to family/whnau and friends, and dont be afraid to ask for help
  • pace yourself, think about your energy levels and balance activity and rest
  • if you need time to rest during the day, dont be afraid to say no to visitors
  • have lots of nutritious snacks and meals
  • regular moderate exercise can help with tiredness and a lack of energy

If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Abdomen

Why Do I Feel So Tired After Radiation

If you are getting radiation to your stomach or some part of the abdomen , you may have side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Eating or avoiding certain foods can help with some of these problems, so diet planning is an important part of radiation treatment of the stomach or abdomen. Ask your cancer care team about what you can expect, and what medicines you should take to help relieve these problems. Check with your cancer care team about any home remedies or over-the-counter drugs youre thinking about using.

These problems should get better when treatment is over.

Managing nausea

Some people feel queasy for a few hours right after radiation therapy. If you have this problem, try not eating for a couple of hours before and after your treatment. You may handle the treatment better on an empty stomach. If the problem doesnt go away, ask your cancer care team about medicines to help prevent and treat nausea. Be sure to take the medicine exactly as you are told to do.

If you notice nausea before your treatment, try eating a bland snack, like toast or crackers, and try to relax as much as possible. See Nausea and Vomiting to get tips to help an upset stomach and learn more about how to manage these side effects.

Managing diarrhea

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Feeling Tired Because Of Low Red Blood Cells

You might have a blood transfusion if you are feeling tired because you are anaemic.

A drug called epoetin can help reduce anaemia for some people. EPO is a manmade copy of a hormone called erythropoietin made by your kidneys. It stimulates the body to make more red blood cells and can reduce fatigue.

This drug is not suitable for everyone. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggests EPO for women with ovarian cancer. This is if they have had treatment with platinum drugs such as carboplatin or cisplatin.

NICE also says that people with other cancers, who have severe anaemia due to cancer treatment and who can’t have blood transfusions, can have EPO.

Chronic Fatigue In Adult Cancer Survivors

National Advisory Unit on Late Effects after Cancer Treatment

Oslo University Hospital

Kristin Valborg Reinertsen , specialist in oncology and senior consultant. She completed her PhD in 2011 on long-term effects after treatment for breast cancer.

The author has completed the ICMJE form and reports no conflicts of interest.

Regional Advisory Unit for Palliative Care

Oslo University Hospital

Jon Håvard Loge , specialist in psychiatry and in child and adolescent psychiatry. He heads the Regional Advisory Unit for Palliative Care, South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority. He is professor II at the Department of Behavioural Sciences in Medicine. He was head of the National Advisory Unit on Late Effects after Cancer Treatment from 2011 to 2014. He has worked with late effects after cancer treatment since the mid 1990s with particular focus on chronic fatigue in cancer survivors.

The author has completed the ICMJE form and reports no conflicts of interest.

Department of General Practice/Family Medicine

Institute of Health and Society

University of Oslo

Mette Brekke , specialist in general practice and professor. She also works as a GP at the Kurbadet group practice, Oslo.

The author has completed the ICMJE form and reports no conflicts of interest.

National Advisory Unit on Late Effects after Cancer Treatment

Oslo University Hospital

Cecilie E. Kiserud , PhD and senior consultant in oncology. She heads the National Advisory Unit on Late Effects after Cancer Treatment.

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What Reduces The Severity Of Tiredness

The level of tiredness a person experiences relates closely to other activities during treatment. What a person eats, how much they sleep, their level of pain and mental stress affect the body and result in fatigue. Those with a cancer diagnosis and receiving treatment, including radiotherapy, should follow the advice of their board-certified radiation therapy oncologist to combat fatigue. Some common methods for reducing fatigue include:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet. All bodily functions rely on the availability of nutrients. Throughout the course of treatment, cancer cells have affected your bodys ability to nourish all cells and tissues. Thus, a well-balanced diet during radiation therapy helps to counteract the adverse effects of cancer and side effects of cancer treatment.
  • Take medications as prescribed. The multidisciplinary care team may prescribe medications and supplements to reduce the negative impact of cancer and cancer treatment. Medications may be useful for managing pain or even improving appetite. Those living with a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment should take all medications as prescribed.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep. Cancer and cancer treatment are strenuous and tiresome. After receiving treatment, get plenty of rest, and if you experience trouble sleeping, speak with your care team about how may improve your sleeping habits. Balancing rest and work will go a long way in reducing your sense of fatigue.
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