Peripheral neuropathy is a side effect of some chemotherapies that results from nerve injury. The hands and feet of patients may experience tingling, burning, or numbness.
Other times, individuals may develop cold dysesthesia, a severe sensitivity to cold. When consuming ice-cold beverages or being exposed to chilly temperatures, whether it be through air conditioning or colder weather, this might result in an unpleasant sensation. This sensation could hurt certain patients.
We chatted with Ryan Huey, M.D., to have a better understanding of this side effect of chemotherapy and what patients may do to manage. He revealed the following.
The medicine oxaliplatin, which is used to treat a number of cancers including colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, and esophageal cancer, has been linked to this unusual side effect. While almost everyone experiences some level of cold sensitivity while taking this medication, some people may be more sensitive than others.
Some individuals may not experience the sensitivity to cold for several days after receiving chemotherapy, although it can appear fairly shortly after the injection.
It can occasionally be unexpected, particularly when it comes to cold food and beverages. I therefore caution my patients before they begin a chemotherapy program that uses platinum. I inform them that while it is unusual, it is not hazardous.
Although the degree of cold sensitivity varies from patient to patient, it is usually quite controllable. It is uncommon for the chemotherapy dose or treatment schedule to need to be changed as a result. However, unlike nausea or diarrhea brought on by chemotherapy may be alleviated with medication, managing cold sensitivity requires a change in lifestyle.
One method to prevent this adverse effect is to only consume warm or room temperature foods and beverages. If you enjoy ice cream, you might not want to have it while undergoing chemotherapy.
But problems can arise with more than just eating and drinking. Patients frequently struggle more in the winter than the summer since exposure to chilly temperatures can also be difficult.
If you must go outside in the frigid weather, I advise wrapping up with a couple extra garments. Another piece of advice is to put on gloves before opening the freezer or refrigerator. If your workstation is next to an air conditioning vent, you might want to find a different place to work where the chilly air won’t immediately harm you.
According to some studies, munching on ice chips while receiving an infusion may completely eliminate this side effect.
Generally speaking, it’s more crucial to prevent the cold that’s making you feel unwell than it is to find strategies to treat it. If you’re sensitive to the cold, you might want to experiment with a few different approaches to determine what works best for you. If you’re having trouble coping, your care team can also assist you in coming up with solutions.
The length of your treatment will determine how long you will experience this sensitivity. You can experience cold sensitivity for a day or two the first few times you take the medication. However, your symptoms could linger longer the longer you receive chemotherapy. Your sensitivity to cold may last for several days or even weeks after chemotherapy is finished.
The good news is that cold sensitivity typically goes away once chemotherapy is over, in contrast to other side effects affecting the nerves, which can be permanent.
Do you ever feel cold when you have cancer?
A bunch of mice will often choose one of the five habitats, which range in temperature from 22 to 38 degrees Celsius “one pleasant at 30C. Humans are similar in that everyone of us has a preferred thermostat setting for the colder months. We get up and check the thermostat setting if the room temperature falls.
On the other hand, mice with cancer seem to favor the warmest 38C environment. People with cancer are more likely to experience chilly weather in “particularly after getting treatment, normal temperatures.
According to the researchers, cancer cells may produce cold stress in an effort to ensure and support their own life. It is yet unknown how and why this happens.
The authors question whether giving cancer patients treatment in warm environments could produce better results.
A team from the Institute for Hyperthermia and Immunotherapy, Windmhlgasse in Vienna, Austria, conducted a study that shown that combining hyperthermia with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy significantly improved outcomes2. (Hyperthermia is a state in which the body temperature is much above normal.)
How do people with cancer stay warm?
- Layer up for warmth. Before venturing outside into the chilly air, cover your mouth and nose with a scarf to prevent any respiratory issues.
- Put on a hat that protects your ears, along with thick gloves or mittens to keep your fingers warm.
- Put on boots or shoes with sturdy treads.
- Make sure snow and ice are removed from walkways.
- If walking through the snow is unavoidable, walk like a penguin. Shuffle or take short, flat-footed steps to gain stability. To keep your balance, keep your arms by your sides rather than in your pockets.
- Ask for and accept assistance with snow shoveling or running errands so you may stay inside during bad weather.
What are the warning symptoms of cancer death?
- There is no audible blood pressure.
- eyes cease twitching and perhaps remain open
- Even in high light, the eyes maintain their huge size.
- As the muscles relax, one can lose control of one’s bowels or bladder.
What caregivers can do
It’s acceptable to spend some time with the deceased after death. Nothing needs to be completed immediately. Many families believe that this is a crucial moment to pray or converse together and reaffirm their affection for the deceased as well as for one another.
Call the hospice or home care organization if they are involved first. Calling the doctor and funeral director should be all that is required if you have already made funeral arrangements.
The correct individuals must be called if a patient passes away at home and is not receiving hospice care. Different communities have different rules or laws about who needs to be notified and how the body should be relocated. You can request this information from your doctor or nurse.
A crucial point: If you dial 911 or Emergency Medical Services (EMS), even if the patient is likely to pass away at home, the law frequently demands that EMS attempt resuscitation or transport the patient to a hospital. This can make things more difficult and put off funeral arrangements. To prevent them from dialing 911 out of bewilderment or panic, make sure that family members and close friends are prepared and know exactly who to call.
Does cancer change a person’s body temperature?
Pyrogens can be created by a tumor, an infection, or by interfering with the hypothalamus’ regular operation. Fever may be directly induced by cancer therapies, or they may kill white blood cells and impair your immune system, leaving you more prone to inflammation and infection. Medications like morphine and steroids can impair your immune system or increase fever.
What type of cancer makes you feel cold?
One of the body’s most fundamental processes is keeping our core temperature constant, and when it doesn’t, we get the chills because our body perceives something is wrong.
Everyone has experienced feeling the shivers in a too chilly setting. That typically serves as a cue to add more layers or increase the heat. However, a variety of underlying medical issues can also be the reason for them. Continue reading for some typical and uncommon causes of chills.
You have a viral or bacterial infection.
Chills are more frequently linked to a systemic infection like the flu or pneumonia when they come together with other symptoms like fever, body aches, or exhaustion.
According to Taroyan, as your immune system tries to fight off an illness, the chills raise your body’s core temperature.
The temperature of your body rises despite the fact that you could feel cold. Chills are frequently accompanied by other symptoms of a viral infection, such as a sore throat, cough, headache, exhaustion, and muscular pains. It can often be self-limiting and will go away in two weeks. It’s crucial to obtain lots of sleep and up your fluid intake.
You have low blood sugar.
Even though many people experience some trembling and irritability when they are hungry, persons with diabetes are more likely to experience genuine hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
One sign of hypoglycemia, according to Taroyan, is shakiness that may simulate the chills.
To restore normal blood sugar levels after hypoglycemia, prompt treatment is necessary.
Hypoglycemia is defined as a blood glucose level of less than 70 milligrams per deciliter. In addition to these symptoms, hypoglycemia can also result in sweating, confusion, a rapid heartbeat, blurred vision, lightheadedness, and sleepiness.
The “15-15 rule:” If you have diabetes and you experience these symptoms. Check your blood sugar levels once more in 15 minutes after consuming 15 grams of simple carbohydrates, such as a glucose pill, juice, honey, or hard candy. Eat a meal after that, but try not to overindulge or your blood sugar will soar.
You’re having a panic attack.
According to Taroyan, chills can happen if you have a strong or deep emotional response to a circumstance. “She explains that feelings like dread or anxiety can make people feel cold.
The American Psychiatric Association estimates that roughly 30% of all individuals will suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Chills, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness, and chest discomfort are just a few examples of the physical and psychological symptoms that can result from a panic attack. People can mistakenly believe they are suffering a heart attack during a panic attack due to the severity of the symptoms.
Go to the doctor if you’ve never experienced a panic attack. Psychotherapy is recommended if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder “Medication and talk therapy can be beneficial.
You have malaria.
Malaria symptoms, which are brought on by infected mosquitos, can resemble cold or flu symptoms. They can also include fever, sweats, head and body aches, nausea, and exhaustion in addition to chills. Since malaria is not very common in the United States, your doctor may choose not to do a simple blood test to check for the parasite very away. Be sure to let your doctor know if you’ve recently been to a place where malaria is prevalent, such as sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, some sections of India, or parts of Central and South America, even if you took antimalarial drugs.
You have leukemia.
Leukemia and other blood malignancies can be indicated by chills. Lymph node swelling, along with fever, chills, exhaustion, loss of appetite, night sweats, stomach discomfort, and recurrent infections, are all possible leukemia symptoms. Consult your doctor if you have a fever and chills that just won’t go away in case you have a more serious condition.
The body may be trying to warm you up when you have the chills, but if they are also accompanied by other symptoms, you should consult a doctor.
Taroyan suggests making an appointment with your primary care physician for additional assessment.
Why do people with cancer sleep so much?
Cancer is defined as the unchecked proliferation of aberrant cells within the body. Cancer steals energy that would otherwise go to the rest of the body, which is needed for that growth.
However, unless the cancer has spread to organs like the liver, where it may impact metabolism, or the bone marrow, it is uncommon to observe this energy drain.
The process of making blood cells is impacted when cancer spreads to the bone marrow. White blood cells assist in preventing infection. Hemoglobin-containing red blood cells transport oxygen to and from organs and tissues all over the body, giving cells energy and eliminating waste. Anemia, which results from a decrease in red blood cell production due to cancer, might make you feel tired.
Another important factor in cancer-related fatigue may be inflammation. To start the immune response while your body is fighting an illness, it releases molecules called cytokines, but these substances can also make you tired.
If you have cancer, is it advisable to use a heating pad?
Not all cancer patients experience pain. But even if you do feel pain, you don’t have to accept it as a necessary component of having cancer. There are numerous ways to manage cancer discomfort. When you are pain-free, you can continue to work and pursue your interests, sleep and eat better, and socialize with family and friends. Only you know how much pain you’re in, so let your doctor and nurse know whenever you’re in it.
Cancer pain can almost always be relieved
Pain relief can be achieved using a variety of medications, cancer therapies, and delivery methods, as well as interventional procedures and surgical methods. You should anticipate pain relief efforts from your healthcare professionals. Ask to visit a pain specialist, nevertheless, if you are in pain and your doctor seems to be at a loss for what to do. Oncologists, anesthesiologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, as well as other medical professionals, nurses, and pharmacists, can be pain experts. Social workers and psychologists may also be a part of a pain management team.
Controlling your pain is part of the overall treatment for cancer treatment
Talking about pain is an essential component of your cancer therapy. Inform your doctor of the pain-control methods that seem to work best for you as well as those that don’t. Both cancer and its treatment can occasionally be painful. To help your doctor better understand how the cancer and its therapies are impacting your body, be sure to let him or her know what kind of discomfort you’re feeling.
Preventing pain is easier than treating pain when it becomes severe
When pain is treated early on, it can be eased most easily. Some may use the phrase “keeping on top” of the pain to describe this. Avoid attempting to endure the discomfort or waiting as long as you can between dosages of pain medication. If you wait, the pain can get worse, and if you don’t take your medication regularly, it might take longer or require higher dosages to provide you with relief.
You have a right to ask for pain relief
Everyone experiences pain differently. If you experience more pain than other people with the same type of cancer, there is no need to be “stoic” or “brave.” Please speak out and let us know as soon as you experience any discomfort. It’s not a sign of weakness to mention pain to a doctor or nurse. Keep in mind that it is simpler to control pain when it first arises than to wait until it is severe.
People who take narcotics for cancer pain rarely become addicted
People who use pain medication frequently worry about becoming addicted, and this worry may keep them from taking their medication. Unfortunately, this concern occasionally leads family members to advise you to “hold off” from taking a dose for as long as you can. Uncontrollable drug yearning, seeking, and use are considered signs of addiction. When drugs like morphine are used to treat pain, addiction is uncommon. The doctor will gradually reduce the dosage you are taking until you are ready to stop using drugs. The body will have adjusted by the time you entirely stop using opioids, so you won’t have a terrible withdrawal. Discuss the safe use of painkillers with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, as well as any worries you have regarding addiction.
When people use cancer pain medications as directed by their doctor, they do not go “high” or lose control.
The first few times you take some painkillers, you can feel drowsy or drunk. Usually, this sensation passes after a few days. Sometimes the drowsiness brought on by the painkillers allows you to catch up on the sleep you lost when you were in pain. On occasion, taking painkillers might make people feel disoriented or out of control. If this occurs to you, let your doctor or a nurse know. Usually, changing your medication’s dosage or type will fix the issue.
Side effects from cancer pain medicines can be managed
Some drugs used to treat cancer pain can make you feel drowsy, nauseated, or constipated. You can control these side effects with the aid of your physician or nurse. Usually, these issues go away a few days after starting the medication. The majority of negative effects can be easily controlled by altering the medication, dose, or timing of administration.
If pain is not effectively managed, you could be:
When cancer pain is effectively managed, you can:
- Enjoy getting moving.
- Enjoy your loved ones.
- increase appetite
- Appreciate being intimate
- Stop depression
Surgical, radiation and anesthetic procedures for cancer pain
Some types of cancer pain may be treated with surgery, radiation, and anesthetic methods. Surgery may be done to drain fluids associated with cancer growth, shrink tumors, remove tumors that are obstructing the digestive system, relieve pressure on nerves, or reduce the size of tumors (ascites). In order to lessen the discomfort caused by skeletal or spinal metastases, surgery is occasionally done to fix bones that have received radiation or chemotherapy treatment.
Techniques from neurological surgery may potentially be applied to treat cancer pain. These methods can be divided into three groups: 1) Pain relievers; 2) stimulators; and 3) ablative techniques.
Pain Pumps: Narcotics may not be able to adequately control pain in some cancer pain management situations, or the narcotics may have uncontrollable adverse effects including sleepiness. In some of these situations, catheters inserted into the spinal fluid spaces in the lower spine or brain can deliver narcotic painkillers directly into the spinal fluid, producing excellent pain relief without the side effects of systemic (oral or intravenous) narcotics. Such treatments include morphine delivery directly into the spinal fluid. A neurological surgeon inserts these pumps into the spinal fluid, and after filling them with a narcotic like morphine, they release the medication straight into the spinal fluid, relieving pain.
Stimulators – Some cancer patients cannot effectively manage their pain with any type of narcotic due to a tumor entering their nerves or from post-surgical nerve discomfort. By applying a tiny electrode to the brain, the spinal cord, or a peripheral nerve, this kind of localized pain may be managed. The electrode enables an electrical current to go around a nerve or spinal cord, preventing the pain signal from traveling from the nerve to the brain. The patient typically experiences numbness or tingling over the affected area rather than pain.
Ablative procedures – On occasion, none of these methods can effectively manage the severe cancer discomfort. Ablative treatments, which deliberately destroy brain, spinal cord, or nerve tissue, may be utilized in certain situations. In certain situations, it may be necessary to ablate, or remove, the tissues involved in the transmission or perception of pain using techniques such neurectomy, cordotomy, or cingulotomy (relating to the physical placement of tissues in the nervous system).
Tumors may cause severe pain in some cancer patients by encroaching on and enlarging bone or by pressing on nerves. The tumor may momentarily decrease with radiation therapy, releasing pressure on the bone or nerve. When a tumor shrinks, the pain goes away or can be controlled with narcotic painkillers.
The term “anesthetic procedures” refers to a broad range of pain-relieving methods. These often entail inserting a needle or a catheter or electrode into the skin to deliver a medication.
Anesthetic drugs are injected into certain body parts that experience pain, most notably the nerves, in the process of performing a nerve block. Lidocaine or bupivacaine, either alone or in combination with corticosteroids, are medications that are occasionally used for nerve blocks. The effectiveness of nerve blocks is typically evaluated by doing a “temporary block” and seeing if this provides relief before performing a “permanent” block. Permanent blocks may offer pain relief for three to six months but are typically not permanent.
Radiologist utilizes X-ray guidance (fluoroscopy) to implant a specific needle and transmit radiofrequency current into a nerve while the patient is under anesthesia. This procedure is known as radiofrequency ablation. In a manner similar to that of surgical nerve severing operations, the radiofrequency current warms and kills the nerve tissue (neurectomy). With little adverse effects, this technique can temporarily relieve some types of pain for several months. If required, it may also be repeated.
Epidural catheters – These methods are comparable to the above-mentioned pain pump operations. A catheter, a tiny tube, is inserted into the epidural area by an anesthesiologist next to the spinal cord. Then, to relieve pain, corticosteroids, local anesthetics, or narcotics might be injected into this area.
Adjuncts to cancer pain therapy: Non-drug approaches
These techniques are generally not meant to treat pain on their own; rather, they can be used as a supplement to painkillers and other forms of pain treatment.
- Heat: Heat can relax muscles, reduce spasms, and improve circulation throughout the body. Heating pads and warm packs can provide soothing relief. Be careful not to use heat on radiation-exposed areas or tumor locations. If necessary, apply heat for 10 to 20 minutes, remove it for the same amount of time, and then reapply.
- Cold: Cold is effective for reducing inflammation and can assist with nerve pain. It is often used in the form of a cold pack that is wrapped in one or more layers of cloth to prevent direct contact with the skin. Use cold packs sparingly; put them on the body for no longer than 10 to 20 minutes at a time, and then reapply as necessary after similarly long rest periods.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS. Electrodes positioned on the skin deliver this low voltage current to the body. The power source is a portable battery. There is a tingling sensation (and may be adjusted in intensity, for comfort). Often, the tingling feeling over the painful area might lessen how much pain is felt. You can get instructions on how to use the equipment and place the electrodes from a medical practitioner.
- Positioning: By using orthotic devices, painful or weak parts of the body can be supported and immobilized. A splint on a sore limb or a collar for people with neck or back discomfort are two examples of orthotic devices. In some cases, posture can offer relief when cancer has weakened bones.