Could Home Remedies Help With Your Trigeminal Neuralgia Pain?
Trigeminal neuralgia can cause what some sufferers have described as blinding pain in the cheek, jaw, forehead, eye, and teeth on one side of the face. Pain can affect both sides of the face, but this is very rare and pain symptoms will affect only one side of the face at a time. The shooting pains have been likened to an electrical shock and an episode of trigeminal neuralgia pain can last up to two minutes.
Trigeminal neuralgia treatment often involves medications or surgery. Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) can treat trigeminal neuralgia pain in a safe and non-invasive way by damaging the nerve responsible for the pain. It can take several weeks for SBRT to effectively relieve pain and symptoms can recur — although if necessary, SBRT can easily be repeated to achieve a more complete treatment. While you’re waiting for treatment to take full effect, you can try some home remedies to try and reduce trigeminal neuralgia pain by using heat, cold, or pressure.
Apply Heat or Cold to the Painful Area
Many people find relief from trigeminal neuralgia pain by applying heat to the affected area. You can do this locally by pressing a hot water bottle or other hot compress to the painful spot. Heat a beanbag or warm a wet washcloth in the microwave for this purpose. You can also try taking a hot shower or bath. If one is available, sit in a hot sauna.
Cold may also help relieve the pain, although you’ll obviously want to avoid this remedy if you’re one of the many trigeminal neuralgia sufferers for whom cold triggers symptoms. But if you think applying cold to the affected area might help relieve your symptoms until you can get SBRT or while you’re waiting for it to take effect, you can use an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel or pillowcase to numb the painful area. Keep the cold in contact with the affected area for about 30 seconds or until the area begins to feel numb. Some trigeminal neuralgia sufferers find that switching between the hot and cold compresses helps more.
Apply Pressure to the Painful Area
While many people find that a light touch — often as light as a gentle breeze wafting over their skin — can trigger trigeminal neuralgia symptoms, they also find that applying pressure to the area can help relieve symptoms. Use your entire hand to press on the affected area. You may need to apply a reasonable amount of pressure in order to get results.
Know Your Triggers
The more you know about what triggers your trigeminal neuralgia pain, the better equipped you’ll be to avoid those triggers and completely escape painful symptoms more often. Some common triggers include eating, talking, brushing teeth, cold, and light touches to the face. Things you wouldn’t expect can trigger trigeminal neuralgia pain, too. One woman reported that peppermint candy triggered her symptoms. If you can’t figure out what’s causing your pain, it may be helpful to keep a pain diary in which you record key details of your environment and activity in order to look for common threads among different symptom flare-ups.
While home remedies may not be capable of completely curing trigeminal neuralgia symptoms, they can be very useful for people who are waiting for treatment or who still have to make it through the recovery period in which symptoms gradually recede after SBRT. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, you’ll be glad to experience relief from your trigeminal neuralgia pain.
Quit Smoking to Improve Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Outcomes
According to the results of a new study, men who smoke during prostate cancer treatment are not only more likely to experience treatment side effects, they’re also more likely to experience a recurrence or even die from prostate cancer.
While men who have never smoked before in their lives run the least risk of experiencing prostate cancer treatment side effects, cancer recurrence, or death, the study found that even men who quit smoking right before beginning cancer treatment enjoyed better treatment outcomes than those who continued smoking throughout treatment.
Smoking Makes Prostate Cancer Treatment Less Effective
The study, performed by researchers from New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and published in the journal BJU International, examined the effects of smoking history among a group of 2,358 patients who received external beam radiotherapy for prostate cancer between 1988 and 2005. 2,156 of the study participants had some kind of smoking history. Researchers divided the patients into four categories: never smokers, current smokers, former smokers, and current smoking status unknown. Even those participants who quit smoking right before beginning prostate cancer treatment were included in the “former smoker” category.
The researchers followed up with the study participants eight years after they received treatment. They found that patients who smoked during the cancer treatment had a 40 percent higher risk of relapse. Those who smoked during treatment were also twice as likely to experience prostate cancer metastasis and to die from prostate cancer, when compared to those who had never smoked.
Patients who were considered former smokers under the terms of the study also had a slightly elevated risk of cancer recurrence, metastasis, and death, but their risks were somewhat lower than those of patients who smoked throughout cancer treatment. Ten years later, only about 52 percent of patients who smoked throughout treatment had not suffered a recurrence of prostate cancer, while 63 percent of former smokers and 66 percent of never smokers were still in the clear.
While today’s patients can choose from a far wider range of prostate cancer treatment options, external beam radiotherapy remains one of the oldest treatments for the disease. There is no reason to believe that the impact of smoking on the efficacy of other prostate cancer treatments, like stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), would be any different than its impact on the efficacy of external beam radiotherapy. The study authors believe that smoking could contribute to the formation of more aggressive cancer tumors. They also speculate that smoking during cancer treatment could interfere with treatment by lowering oxygen levels within tumor cells, making them less susceptible to the effects of radiation.
In addition to an enhanced risk of cancer recurrence, metastasis, and death, current and former smokers involved in the study also experienced a greater risk of a range of urinary side effects. These side effects included urinary incontinence, urinary toxicity, bladder hemorrhage, and urinary retention.
If you want to improve your chances of a good treatment outcome for prostate cancer, you might want to consider quitting smoking. While researchers don’t yet fully understand the relationship between smoking and prostate cancer, new evidence suggests that smoking during treatment can make treatment less effective. If you’re a smoker who’s already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s not too late — quitting smoking can still make a difference, even if you do it right before you start treatment.
How to Deal With Physical Changes After Cancer Treatment Ends
Even after cancer treatment ends, you may find that you are still coping with physical changes related to treatment. These changes can range from reduced strength and endurance to lasting fatigue, pain, weight changes, and sexual changes.
While you may be able to counteract many of these lasting side effects with regular exercise, good nutrition, and other positive lifestyle changes, many side effects may linger for months or years after treatment ends, and it’s important to know how to cope.
No matter what kind of cancer you’ve suffered or what kind of treatment you’ve received, you may experience fatigue for a long time after your treatment ends. This kind of fatigue doesn’t go away with sleep. Though researchers don’t yet understand what causes treatment-related fatigue in cancer patients, it may occur due to poor nutrition, dehydration, anemia, pain, and depression.
Gentle exercise, relaxation, pain control, good nutrition, and drinking more fluids can help combat fatigue. Ask your treatment team about ways to fight fatigue. The causes of fatigue in people who have finished cancer treatment are different from the causes of fatigue in people who are still receiving treatment, so if you experienced fatigue during treatment, don’t be surprised if the solutions change.
Lingering pain may occur due to nerve damage caused by chemotherapy or damage to the skin caused by radiation therapy. Surgery scars can also cause pain after treatment ends. Some therapies for post-treatment pain include:
- Antidepressants or narcotic painkillers
- Physical therapy
- Nerve blocks or other surgery
You can lower your risk of post-treatment pain with SBRT, a form of radiation therapy that minimizes damage to healthy tissue to reduce or eliminate complications.
Some kinds of cancer therapy can cause weight gain, and after treatment, survivors find that it’s even harder than it should be to lose the weight because normal methods of weight loss don’t work. Chemotherapy can cause patients to lose muscle tissue and gain fatty tissue. Other survivors struggle with the opposite problem — they lose weight and can’t gain it back.
If you’re trying to lose weight after cancer treatment, you may want to try a combination of strength-training exercises and a healthy, low-calorie diet. If you want to gain more weight after cancer treatment, you may want to try:
- Eating several smaller meals instead of three larger ones.
- Eating more of your favorite foods.
- Making your meals look attractive.
- Using sauces, savory vegetables, and other seasonings to add flavor to foods.
Sexual changes are common after cancer treatment, especially among people who have had breast, prostate, or other reproductive cancer treatment. Survivors report losing interest in sex because of changes in body image, fatigue, pain, or simply a lowered sex drive. Others experience physical problems that make it harder to be intimate. Whatever the problem, it’s important that you ask your doctor about medication, counseling, or other therapies that can help resolve it. A sex therapist may also be able to help you and your partner come up with solutions.
Physical changes like pain and fatigue can persist for months after cancer treatment ends — some changes may last even longer. While it’s easy to get discouraged in the face of lingering cancer treatment side effects, try not to let these physical changes get you down. With time and a little creativity, you’ll soon find ways to enjoy yourself in spite of any lasting treatment side effects — and you may even find that most side effects do go away eventually, even if it takes a while.
Can a Prostate Cancer Diet Improve Your Treatment Outcome?
Nutrition is always important when you’re going through cancer treatment, whether it’s for prostate cancer or another kind of cancer. But there’s some evidence to suggest that eating certain foods may increase the risk that your prostate cancer will grow or spread, while eating other foods may help to keep your prostate cancer in check.
In general, you should avoid red meat and eat a diet low in calories and fat. Some specific foods you can eat to help improve your prostate cancer treatment outcome includes fish, soy, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, poultry, liver, and pomegranate juice. Let’s take a look at some of the dietary guidelines that can help you overcome prostate cancer.
What You Should Eat During Prostate Cancer Treatment
You should eat a generally healthy diet and limit your consumption of alcohol while you receive prostate cancer treatment. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, including:
- Tomatoes, especially cooked or processed
- Brazil nuts
- Sweet potatoes
- Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and cabbage
- Pomegranates and pomegranate juice
- Citrus fruits
- Berries, especially blueberries and raspberries
These foods contain plenty of antioxidants, polyphenols, and other substances shown to fight cancer. You should also eat plenty of vegetable protein in the form of beans and legumes. According to WebMD, a traditional Japanese-style diet that is high in soy, green tea, and oily fish can help you fight prostate cancer. Alternatively, you may switch to a more Mediterranean-style diet, and begin eating more fruits, vegetables, grains, garlic, olive oil, fish, poultry, and red wine. Drink plenty of water and green tea. Eat whole foods as much as possible.
Some Foods Can Hold Your Treatment Back
Just as there are some foods that can complement your prostate cancer treatment, there are also some foods that may encourage the spread of prostate cancer and make treatment less effective. Minimize your consumption of these foods while you’re going through prostate cancer treatment, or avoid them altogether:
- Flax seed or flax seed oil, which can cause prostate cancer to grow
- Canola, corn, or soybean oils
- Red meat
- Excessive amounts of dairy products, since calcium can cause prostate cancer to spread
- Pickled, salted, or otherwise preserved foods
- Burned, toasted, or charred foods
- Fried foods
- Foods that contain trans fatty acids
- Sugary foods
While your body will still need some fat in order to function properly, you should keep your fat intake to a minimum during prostate cancer treatment. Quit smoking, if you haven’t already, and make sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly. The better you care for your body’s physical and nutritional needs, the better you will be able to fight prostate cancer.
If you’re going through prostate cancer treatment, certain foods may make it easier to overcome the disease. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, soy, olive oil, grains, and poultry. Drink a little red wine once in a while. Eating a healthy diet can help you look and feel your best during and after treatment.
5 Alternative Therapies That Complement Lung Cancer Treatment
Alternative therapies are popular — according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, four in 10 American adults reported using some form of alternative or complementary therapy within the year prior to the survey. The most popular treatments were deep breathing exercises and natural products, but other popular alternative therapies include acupuncture, massage, meditation and yoga.
Can alternative and complementary therapies help with lung cancer treatment? They can, but it’s important to realize that alternative therapies alone may not be as effective as traditional cancer treatments like radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Nevertheless, many patients fighting lung and other cancers choose alternative therapies to help them manage pain, stress, and cancer treatment side effects.
Make sure you discuss any alternative therapies you may be considering with your treatment team before you get them. Some therapies may not be appropriate for all patients, or can interfere with your treatment. Alternative therapies like the ones discussed below can be a beneficial part of your comprehensive treatment plan, and help you get the most out of lung cancer treatment.
Yoga is a form of strength training exercise that involves physical postures and breathing exercises. It is a meditative practice that has been found to promote relaxation and increase physical fitness. It may help you sleep better, and if you’re trying to quit smoking, yoga may help you learn to manage cigarette cravings. Yoga may help to relieve symptoms of physical pain and can help you manage cancer treatment side effects. In recent studies of cancer survivors, yoga has been found to greatly improve quality of life.
If you have never done yoga before, you should take classes from a qualified instructor. You can also practice yoga poses at home on your own.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting needles into acupuncture points on the skin, or applying heat, pressure, or other stimulation to those points. Acupuncture during lung cancer treatment can help relieve chemotherapy symptoms, including vomiting and nausea, and ease pain associated with cancer. You should receive acupuncture from a licensed practitioner who uses new, disposable needles for each session. If you are taking blood thinners or have low blood counts, you shouldn’t have acupuncture.
Hypnosis has a number of applications for use in cancer treatment. Not only can it help you learn to manage pain, it can also help you come to terms with psychological symptoms like anger, anxiety, frustration, guilt, depression, and fear of death. You can use hypnosis to help you deal with cancer treatment side effects like nausea. You can receive hypnosis from a psychotherapist or other professional, or learn self-hypnosis.
Research into the benefits of massage for cancer treatment show that it can relieve anxiety, stress, pain, fatigue, and depression. It can enhance feelings of well-being, promote relaxation, relieve stiffness, and enhance mobility. You may want to look for a massage therapist who specializes in helping cancer patients. You shouldn’t have massage if you’re taking blood thinners or if you’re suffering from low blood counts.
Meditation is a practice in which you use self-reflection or mental concentration to calm the mind and relax physically. It can help you cope with sleep problems and chronic pain brought on by cancer treatment. It may also relieve anxiety and stress while improving immune function and mood. There are many forms of meditation. Free guided meditations are available online and in many communities.
Alternative therapies can be a powerful complement to traditional cancer treatments. They can help you cope with the psychological, emotional, and physical side effects of cancer treatment. Like many cancer patients, you may find these therapies so valuable that you continue to include them in your daily life, even after cancer treatment is complete.