Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States. And every year, it becomes a huge challenge for people to deal with mentally, physically, and emotionally. While the outlook on the diagnosis isn’t always great, understanding how to manage your symptoms becomes a key step in the process of dealing with this disease.
7 Tips for Your Mesothelioma Symptoms
Mesothelioma is often diagnosed late in the stages of development, at which point it’s not always possible to reverse or slow the disease. However, there are always options for managing symptoms, eliminating discomfort, and enjoying a greater quality of life.
Let’s explore a few tips and strategies together.
1. Understand Your Symptoms
To effectively manage mesothelioma symptoms, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what to expect. Common mesothelioma symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, persistent cough, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss. Recognizing these symptoms early on can lead to quicker intervention and better management of the disease’s impact on your life.
2. Work With Your Healthcare Team
Collaborating closely with your medical professionals is essential in the management of mesothelioma symptoms. Your healthcare team, which may include oncologists, palliative care specialists, and pain management experts, can provide valuable insights and guidance.
Regular communication with your healthcare providers ensures that your symptoms are adequately addressed throughout your treatment journey. It also helps you have a better understanding of what’s happening, what the options are, and what to expect moving forward.
3. Pursue Treatment Options for Symptoms
Treatment options for mesothelioma may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy, among others. These treatments not only target the cancer itself but can also alleviate some of the associated symptoms. However, it’s essential to be aware of potential treatment side effects and work with your medical team to mitigate them effectively.
4. Address Pain Management Head-On
Pain is a common symptom in mesothelioma patients, often resulting from the tumor’s pressure on surrounding tissues or nerves. (In some cases, the pain is non-localized.)
Pain management strategies may involve medications, nerve blocks, or even surgical interventions. It’s extremely important that you communicate your pain levels and concerns to your healthcare team so they can tailor an appropriate pain management plan for you.
5. Have Tools for Respiratory Problems
Shortness of breath is one of the most common symptoms in mesothelioma patients, particularly in those with pleural mesothelioma affecting the lungs’ lining. Breathing exercises, such as pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, can help improve lung function and alleviate breathlessness. Additionally, oxygen therapy may be recommended to enhance respiratory comfort.
There are dozens of different breathing exercises, medical assistance products, and other tools that you can use to address your respiratory issues. Make sure you’re consulting with your medical team to get personalized suggestions that are tailored to your diagnosis and symptoms.
6. Practice Proper Diet and Nutrition
Maintaining proper nutrition is essential for overall well-being and can assist in symptom management. A balanced diet with adequate protein and nutrients can support your immune system and energy levels. Depending on your symptoms, dietary modifications may be necessary to address issues like difficulty swallowing or changes in taste.
When it comes to diet and nutrition, focus on eliminating processed foods and consuming a diet that’s rich in natural foods and ingredients. Proper hydration is also an important key. By eating well and staying hydrated, you strengthen your immune system and give your body the ammunition it needs to fight back.
7. Try Complementary and Alternative Therapies
It might sound “hokey” if you’ve never done it before, but many mesothelioma patients find alternative therapies to be especially helpful in dealing with physical pain and emotional challenges like stress and anxiety.
Complementary therapies like acupuncture, massage, and relaxation techniques may offer relief from symptoms and contribute to your overall comfort. While these therapies are not a replacement for medical treatments, discussing their potential benefits with your healthcare team is advisable.
Adopting the Right Frame of Mind
Mesothelioma symptoms can be challenging, but with the right strategies and support, they can be managed effectively. By working closely with your healthcare team, implementing symptom-specific treatments, and adopting self-care practices, you can enhance your quality of life while living with mesothelioma. Remember that you are not alone in this journey, and there is hope and resilience even in the face of such a formidable diagnosis.