Cancer is often treated with radiation, and although the treatment seems to be effective, there are also numerous side effects of radiation that can be divided into acute and late effects.

Acute radiation side effects

There is no pain associated with the treatment, or other sensations except for the sounds made by the machine at the beginning and at the end of the treatment. The majority of the patients will experience only little reaction, but still the normal tissues will react in some way to the radiation. The kind of reaction and also the amount varies according to the body part treated and the amount of normal tissue that is affected.side effects of radiation

In case there is a large area treated, the radiation side effects will be general while in case a smaller body part is treated, the side effects will be focused on that area.

General side effects of radiation

Nausea is one of the most common side effects, but the degree of it varies from one patient to the other. While some of them experience only a very mild nausea, others might be troubled by it and also by vomiting especially during the early part of the treatment. In case it happens, usually it is at its peak two hours after the treatment.

In order to make patients feel better, doctors advise them to drink ice cold water and to eat salty food. Also they should avoid eating greasy food, sweet foods or smelly foods. The patients should have small and frequent meals.

Hair loss is also a well-known radiation side effect and it usually occurs in the radiation field. It is possible for the patient to lose his or her hair only in case the scalp is also affected by the radiation.

Fatigue and malaise is also one of the known side effects of radiation. Usually the patients experience tiredness and lack of energy. Nonetheless this usually doesn’t stop people from performing their normal activities and undertaking their normal duties. Still doctors advise to reduce the activities during the treatment and immediately after.

Low blood count is also one of the radiation side effects because of the exposure of the bone marrow to the radiation. In the same time at a lesser extent it is also possible to have direct damage to the lymphocytes and the lymph nodes.

During the radiation the white cell count is reduced and also the number of platelets. Such decreases are rarely severe enough to cause problems, but in case they do it is enough to stop the treatment for a few days for them to recover from the side effects of radiation. Normally the number of red blood cells doesn’t drop, except in cases when there is some bleeding.

Organ specific radiation side effects

The skin is the organ that receives the majority of the radiation, this being the first organ that is hit by the rays. Nonetheless the side effects of radiation aren’t permanent and the effects can be reversed through the same steps.