Patients diagnosed with various cancers and diseases such as lymphoma and leukemia undergo a bone marrow transplant (BMT) as part of the treatment they require to get well.
Cancer patients undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy to kill the diseased or cancerous cells.
The therapies destroy the bone marrow and impairs its ability to regenerate new blood cells. This leaves the patients without a functional immune system.
Post the therapies, patients receive bone marrow donation that’s transplanted into their immune system to resupply the body with new stem cells that create blood.
However, the immune system takes about three months to recover fully. During this period, the patients are at a high risk for infection.
According to a study, there’s a need to increase the number of stem cells in a bone marrow transplant before it’s given to a patient. Increased number of stem cells in a transplant can hasten recovery in cancer patients.
However, blood-forming stem cells produced in science laboratories don’t have similar function abilities as a donor’ blood-forming stem cells.
Ongoing studies are working on screening and testing all kinds of proteins that can be used to develop blood-forming stem cells. The regenerated cells should resemble donated stem cells in beneficial properties and how they function.
The success of those studies would see patients recover faster and develop fewer issues post a bone marrow transplant. This is one-way regenerative medicine holds a bright future for advancement in medical and patient care.
If you’ve undergone a bone marrow transplant and in the three-month recovery period, here’re tips to help you hasten your healing process:
5 Healthy Tips for Faster Recovery Post BMT
- Eat a healthy diet
You need a good diet to regain your strength.
It isn’t easy.
Some effects of having a bone marrow transplant include:
- A sore mouth
Anti-nausea medication can help ease these side effects.
Vitamins and minerals
If you’re able to eat, opt for foods rich in vitamins and minerals because you’re likely to experience a deficiency in the same.
Some vitamins and minerals you may need include:
Phosphorus – supports bone strength and available in the following foods:
Calcium – just like phosphorus, calcium is important for bone strength. Most medications prescribed post BMT reduce calcium levels in the body. The following foods are rich in calcium and thus can strengthen your bones:
Vitamin D – prolonged steroid therapy leads to bone loss, a condition known as osteoporosis. In that case, you need to take vitamin D daily for quick recovery. Apart from sunshine, you can obtain vitamin D from the following fortified foods:
- Soy milk
- Orange juice
Magnesium – the immune system weakens after BMT, hence the need for magnesium; it supports functioning of the immune system. It also controls blood pressure. You’ll find it in the following foods:
Potassium – diarrhea and vomiting, the side effects of BMT, can result in an electrolyte or mineral imbalance in the body.
Potassium also maintains the right amount of body fluids, promotes proper cell functioning, and ensures your blood pressure is under control. Most fruits and vegetables are rich in this mineral. They include:
- Sweet potatoes
For greater outcomes, consider taking your meals outdoors for the benefits that come with dining outside. In that case, you may need an outdoor misting fan in summer to keep yourself cool when relaxing for a healthy meal.
With a great selection in the market to choose from, you’ll need a reasonable budget. Also, determine your long-term needs when looking for the right fan.
If you’re unable to eat, you’ll find supplements handy and just as nutritious and healthy. Take daily multivitamin but make sure it lacks iron. Your body has lots of red blood cells if you received a blood transfusion.
Also consider nutritional beverage supplements for faster recovery.
Avoid foods that cause problems
If you have a weak immune system, avoid the following foods because they can cause trouble in your body system:
- Undercooked or raw eggs
- Unpasteurized raw milk
- Bulk or self-service food bins
- Undercooked or raw fish
- Cheese prepared from unpasteurized milk
- Cold, Deli meat
- Undercooked or raw meats
Engage in regular physical activity to boost your heart health, manage weight, and boost your stamina and strength. Determine the right level of exercise from your doctor to ensure that you don’t overdo it.
Start your exercise regime slowly with regular walks.
Avoid drinking alcohol
The liver often fails after a bone marrow transplant. Some causes of liver failure include:
- Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) – occurs when you receive a bone marrow or stem cells donation from a donor but it sees your body as foreign and launches an attack against it.
The liver is responsible for processing alcohol, hence the need to avoid wine, beer and other related alcoholic spirits.
Medication usually accompanies a bone marrow transplant to reduce chances of your body rejecting the stem cells. The medication weakens your immunity so that it doesn’t react to the implanted cells.
As new, healthy cells start to regenerate and strengthen your immunity post BMT, you risk an infection. As a result, you may get antibiotic prescription to prevent infections. Other medications include:
- Antiviral drugs.
Follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter post BMT treatment.
Protection from the sun
You’re likely to develop GVHD if you stay out longer in the sun. What’s more, you’re likely to have sensitive skin post the treatment.
Use a sunscreen of at least SPF 50 to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. You may also wear long sleeves, long pants and a hat when going out in the sun.
Clean your mouth with a soft-bristle brush after disinfecting it with hot water to care for your mouth. You can also consider dental cleaning for serious issues.
Also consider taking part in a clinical trial aimed at hastening recovery post BMT and find an emotional support system to help you overcome the emotional side effects of BMT such as anger, anxiety, sadness, and happiness.
Other forms of support available include:
- Local or online support groups of people with similar experiences
- Your medical team