Daily Bulletin

  • Written by Nyaka Mwanza

Depending on a person’s leukemia and treatment plan, living with leukemia can come with a lot of discomfort. However, effective treatment for leukemia should involve not just killing the cancer cells, but also managing the discomfort that could result from leukemia or its therapies. Here’s how to manage nausea, pain, and emotional discomfort from leukemia.

Easing Leukemia-Related Nausea

Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of leukemia treatment. Nausea is the unpleasant sensation that is often described when a person feels as if they are going to be sick to their stomach, while vomiting (emesis) is the act of throwing up.

To ease an upset stomach, talk to your doctor about medications that can help control this side effect. Different antiemetics, as they’re called, work in different ways to control, treat, or prevent nausea and vomiting. Anti-nausea medications take effect by blocking various parts of the pathways in the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger the body’s instinct to throw up. Cannabinoids, in particular, are drugs that contain the active ingredient found in cannabis. In certain instances, cannabinoids can minimize nausea while also offering the additional gain of stimulating the appetite.

Easing Pain Associated With Leukemia

Leukemia pain may be a result of the cancer, the treatment, or tests, or you may have general aches and pains. There are many treatment options to improve the pain from leukemia, so talk to your doctor about the approaches, both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical, that can help you ease any pain you have.

Oftentimes, people end up taking more than one drug or combining several traditional and alternative pain management methods to control their pain. These approaches might include:

  • * Over-the-counter and prescription painkillers

  • * Surgery

  • * Massage

  • * Mindful meditation

  • * Acupuncture

  • * Yoga

  • * Hot or cold packs

  • * Exercise


Easing Emotional Discomfort

Sadness, anger, disbelief, fear, shock; life with leukemia brings a wide range of emotions. You’ll likely be flooded with information and have many questions, some of which may not have a clear answer, such as: “Will the chemo work?” “What is the acute myeloid leukemia survival rate?” “Will I be able to continue working at my current job?” In short, it’s stressful.

Easing the emotional burden may be an important aspect of your care that allows you to face the rest of your challenges head-on.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven helpful for easing emotional discomfort of individuals or the whole family dealing with leukemia. CBT involves teaching effective emotional coping skills. Group therapy and peer-to-peer support may also be helpful. Speaking to someone who has already adapted to life with leukemia can provide a unique connection and give you someone to lean on when things feel tough.

References

  1. Understanding Nausea and Vomiting

  2. Medicines Used to Treat Nausea and Vomiting

  3. Pain Treatment

  4. Acute Myeloid Leukemia Survival Rate and Outlook

  5. After Diagnosis: A Guide for Patients and Families


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