What Is Leukemia?
Leukemia is a group of cancers that result in high level of abnormal white blood cells. It usually starts in bone marrow or blood. These white blood cells, called leukaemia cells or blasts, are not fully developed and their DNA gets damaged. Healthy blood cells die after some time and the new one grow. But, in leukaemia, old cells do not die when they need to and keep growing. They occupy more space and eventually leave no space for good cells.
What Are The Symptoms Of Leukemia?
Symptoms may include bruising and bleeding problems, increased frequency of infections, fever, feeling tired, bleeding gums, vomiting, loss of appetite and bleeding in the middle of mensural cycle amongst many others.
What Are The Causes Of Leukemia?
The exact cause of leukaemia is not known. Environmental and inherited factors both seem to play a vital role in the development of leukaemia. Different types of leukaemia are caused by different reasons. Smoking, certain chemicals like benzene, ionizing radiation, prior chemotherapy, family history of leukaemia and down syndrome are some of the risk factors.
Other factors, which increase the risk of leukaemia, are pollution, smoking, pesticides in foods, water, untreated fungal infections, mercury toxicity, nuclear radiations, cell phone tower radiations, overhead power lines and intestinal toxicity amongst many other factors.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Leukemia?
- Managing the tiredness and replenishing energy, which one loses in the process of treatment, one needs to manage one’s life in the best possible way:
- Do brief exercises at 5 days a week, as it helps in replenishing the lost energy.
- Aim for at least 10 fruits and vegetables a day to get sufficient vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
- As a side effect of chemotherapy, the appetite of patient reduces. Even if you do not feel like eating, take small portions of meals frequently. But one has to force-feed oneself to some extent.
- Depression is the most common thing to happen to a person undergoing chemotherapy. Get the help of professional caregivers and try to involve yourself in various activities.
- Fatigue is caused by anaemia and it should be managed with iron rich foods, iron rich foods and blood transfusion.
- Some patients may experience mental fog (memory loss, confusion, lack of concentration). It could be short term or long term.
- Most of the patients experience hair loss, digestive disorders, oral and dental complications but these are short term and go away as the treatment ends. So, maintain a positive outlook that everything will be alright soon.
- Consider a hair shave before chemotherapy to save the patient from the trauma of hair loss, which is one of the common side effects of chemotherapy.
- Eat steamed food.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Leukemia?
- Don’t smoke, drink alcohol too much as they directly linked to cancer.
- Don’t go for repeated X-rays, unless absolutely necessary.
- Since the body has low immunity during treatment, don’t eat raw fruits or vegetables as they may contain bacteria. Certain fruits like banana and oranges are safe as you take off thick peel before eating.
What Are The Best Foods For Leukemia?
- Whole grains: Whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain cereals and quinoa are the best sources of nutrition.
- Protein rich foods like nuts seeds, tofu, eggs, oatmeal, fish and chicken etc. are must for building strength.
- Pomegranate, beetroots are known for increasing haemoglobin, hence should be added in the daily diet.
- Low-fat dairy items
- Olive oil
- Lean meat and poultry items
What Are The Worst Foods For Leukemia?
- Since the stomach gets upset easily after chemotherapy, avoid foods like coffee, spicy foods, tobacco, alcohol etc.
- Sugar, sweets.
- Saturated fats, fried foods as they are difficult to digest.
- Food additives, artificial flavours, refined foods.
- Some patients may experience more stomach upset with dairy products, soy or wheat. Check if your symptoms worsen after taking these items and if the answer is yes, delete them from your food list till you are off the treatment.
What Are The Medicines For Leukemia?
What Are The Tips To Manage Leukemia?