Common Side effects of Medicines

Anaemia

It is a medical condition when the Red Blood Cell count is low and falls below 7 grams. The child will feel tired and look pale. In many cases, a blood transfusion will be required to increase the counts.

Low WBC count

The medical term is Neutropenia.It is a medical condition when the White Blood Cell count is at its lowest and their neutrophil count is low and falls below 1000 per microlitre. The child will be at a higher risk of developing an infection. Antibiotics and other medicines may be given to treat infections and children may be required to stay in hospital.

Low platelet count

The medical term is Thrombocytopenia. It is a medical condition when the Platelet count falls below 75,000 per microlitre. This makes it difficult for blood to clot and children are at a risk of bruising and bleeding. Children should avoid rough play and sports or any activity where they might get injured easily. Sometimes platelet transfusion are given to reduce risk of bleeding until the count recovers.

There are other side effects which are specific to the drugs used (refer to the 'Drugs used' section).

Cancer is not Contagious and cannot spread by contact. The most important part of the whole treatment process is to ensure that the child lives in a clean place and is given proper nutrition. Infections are a major cause of concern and can delay the recovery process. It is important for the parent to keep a close watch on the child and to immediately call the doctor or visit the hospital when the child has the following :

  • A temperature of 100.4 F or higher.
  • Shivering.
  • Bleeding – blood in urine or stool or while coughing or through the nose.
  • New rashes or red of skin or itching.
  • Prolonged nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps or constipation.
  • Any injury or cut or persistent pain or swelling anywhere on the body.

Maintaining good daily hygiene is essential to avoid infections and the following should be followed at all times :

  • Daily bath and clean clothes.
  • Good Oral hygiene – rinse mouth properly after every meal.
  • Wash hand thoroughly before every meal.
  • To keep away from flowering plants as they release fungus that can cause infections.
  • To keep away from pets.

A healthy nutritious diet is very important in helping the child cope with the disease and treatment. Professional assistance from a dietician or nutritionist can be taken to provide a balanced diet.

  • Freshly made, home cooked food which should be simple and healthy.
  • Clean and filtered drinking water to be given – it should be boiled for 20 minutes.
  • Only give fruits that have a thick skin and can be peeled like Banana, Oranges and Melons.
  • Fruits like apple, grapes, papaya, etc. are to be avoided.
  • Fish, Chicken and eggs can be given but they have to be fresh and cooked thoroughly.
  • Avoid packaged food like biscuits, chips, wafers, chocolates and candies.
  • Avoid food from street side vendors.
  • Avoid vitamin supplements.

Parents as well as children face emotional issues. It is important for the parents to be strong and take the support of their family and friends. They must understand that the disease is curable, in most cases.

Children can sense the truth as they overhear discussions and pick up bits and pieces of information. They are very perceptive about their parent’s feelings and can get more frightened and stressed.
Parents must explain to the child, and if required seek the assistance of the doctors, about the disease and that it is not their fault and neither one could have done anything to prevent the disease from happening.

Children must be made to understand the side effects of the medicines, especially that the hair lost during treatment will grow back. They should not be kept in isolation and must interact and play with other family members, siblings and friends.

"A happy mind ensures a better recovery".