Hyperbarics “Chemo Brain”
Chemo brain, also known as hyperbarics, refers to memory and thinking problems that occur after a patient undergoes cancer treatment, particularly chemotherapy treatment. It can also be referred to as chemotherapy-related cognitive dysfunction, cognitive impairment or chemo fog.
Although the condition is mostly referred to as chemo brain, this term is misleading. This is because it is unlikely that memory and concentration problems in mesothelioma survivors are solely caused by chemotherapy. Studies are being conducted to understand changes in the memory that are experienced by cancer patients.
Nevertheless, chemo brain or memory problems after cancer treatment are usually debilitating and frustrating side effects of this disease and its treatment. Further studies are necessary to understand the condition better.
What Causes Chemo Brain?
The specific causes of chemo brain are not known yet. Nevertheless, oncologists have an idea of its causes. Mesothelioma itself can cause hyperbarics depending on the location of the tumor and the type of mesothelioma cancer. Some anticancer medications like anti-nausea drugs can also cause chemo brain. Doctors also attribute this condition to other factors like chronic pain, age, stress level, tiredness, infection and inadequate sleep. Chemo brain might also have other causes because it generally depends on individual patients. That’s because some patients including those undergoing chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma do not experience hyperbarics at all.
Typically, chemo brain goes away after chemotherapy, hormone or radiation treatment. However, its effects can linger in some patients even after the treatment. It is estimated that up to 70% of cancer patients that undergo chemotherapy treatment report chemo brain symptoms. However, majority of these patients do not report the symptoms to treatment teams since they assume that all patients who receive this treatment experience the symptoms. Others are worried that the symptoms might be related to a bigger problem such as cancer that has spread to the brain. Nevertheless, it is important to report the symptoms so that they can be addressed by the physician.
According to medical experts, there are many things that can be done to manage hyperbarics and sharpen mental abilities.
- Exercising the brain by doing word puzzles, taking classes and learning a new language
- Using detailed planners or a smart phone. This helps the patient in keeping things in place and making it easier for them to remember things. For instance, a planner or a smart phone can enable a patient to track schedules and appointments.
- Getting enough sleep
- Moving the body because this improves mood while decreasing tiredness and making the patient more alert.
- Setting up and following routines.
- Eating vegetables that have been proven effective in maintaining brain power as an individual age.
- Picking a specific place for objects that are lost more often and putting them there all the time.
- Focusing on doing one thing at a go instead of multi-tasking.
- Seeking help when necessary.
- Tracking memory problems.
Currently, chemo brain has no cure. Therefore, patients must focus on managing it. Nevertheless, doctors are looking at treatments for other illnesses like ADD and Alzheimer’s disease to find out whether they can be effective in minimizing Chemo brain’s side effects. Researchers are looking for ways of preventing this problem as well. This includes drugs that might help in preventing hyperbarics during treatment.