Last week I shared some hard-earned advice about how to deal with side effects caused by a variety of myeloma therapies.
My recommendations were broad and general. I hope they helped.
But I promised to share some more specific tips this week. What about the day-to-day side effects that many of us face once we begin myeloma therapy?
Inconvenient things like too much stomach acid, nausea, constipation and any number of significant side effects caused by the drug that we all love to hate: dexamethasone.
Speaking of that particular emotion, don't you hate when you begin reading an article touting ways to help you resolve any number of medically related issues, only to learn that it was so basic that it was a waste of time reading it? I don't want that to happen here!
So let's turn this topic into a multi-week discussion, shall we? That way we can really tackle some specifics.
This week I will cover complications from too much stomach acid. Next week nausea, followed by constipation and last but certainly not least, dexamethasone-related side effects.
Following my autologous (using my own cells) stem-cell transplant, I battled a long list of side effects for months: Fatigue, low -blood counts and nausea, to name just a few. But the longest lasting of these was excess stomach acid.
Commonly a problem for a month or so while one's digestive system gets back on track following a stem cell transplant (SCT), mine persists today, 11 months later.
Although it wasn't ever diagnosed by a specialist, it is likely I suffered from auto graft/host disease. I didn't even know graft/host was an issue in auto patients. But the most common area of concern for auto host/graft is the digestive tract, so my myeloma specialist feels it is likely that may have affected me.
For months I could hear and feel acid jetting out of control into my unprotected stomach. Not fun!
My doctors recommended I take Prilosec OTC--or a generic equivalent such as omeprazole magnesium--along with an over-the-counter antacid like Maalox.
A fellow transplant patient recommended the prescription drug, pantoprazole, which he felt was much stronger and worked miracles for him.
For some reason, my doctors weren't anxious to prescribe pantoprazole. I finally ended-up using omeprazole magnesium capsules because they were inexpensive and considered relatively safe. As a matter of fact, both my myeloma specialist and medical oncologist told me I could take it twice a day--morning and night--and at twice the recommended dose on the box.
Check with your doctor, but the twice-a-day approach helped get my acid rush under control. I still use omeprazole magnesium once each morning, a real life saver!
Another patient friend recommended taking a calcium supplement throughout the day. Another felt ginger helped her.
This topic quickly crosses over to include what I call a sour stomach and/or nausea. And these common side effects aren't reserved for those of us who have undergone a SCT. Dexamethasone can really mess with one's stomach, for example. So can VELCADEÂ®. Really? You probably have never noticed, since it is standard medical practice to include an anti-nausea drug in the same IV.
Since I would like to cover those issues in detail, let's continue our discussion about ways to improve treatment-related sour stomach and nausea next week.Until then, feel good and keep smiling!