Aside from ensuring that the first aid kit is well stocked, the key to administering first aid to cancer patients is to understand the specialized skills and items needed to manage fear, anxiety, and depression; adverse effects of cancer or chemotherapy; and emergency situations that require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Emotional First Aid For Cancer Patients
Approximately half of the people with cancer exhibit psychological complications. Cancer can cause a variety of emotions that may be overwhelming. These feelings are completely normal and may frequently change. A life-support provider should be aware of the following common emotional difficulties.
Fear and Anxiety
Panic Disorder and Chest Pain – Approximately one-fourth of patients who present to the emergency department for chest pain have panic disorder. This article reviews the mechanisms, morbidity, and management of chest pain in panic disorder.
Physical First Aid for Cancer Patients
Thinking outside your average first aid kit for a person undergoing chemotherapy can help save their life.
One of the most dangerous side effects of chemotherapy is not always visible. A low white blood cell count, called neutropenia, puts cancer patients at a high risk for infection. Other potentially life-threatening complications of cancer and chemotherapy include bleeding and dehydration. Be prepared by reviewing the following circumstances.
Help Cancer Patients Prevent Infection – This program is designed by the Center for Disease Control to help people suffering from cancer protect themselves from infection and learn how to recognize infection.
How to Use a Thermometer – The Cleveland Clinic provides an overview of how to take a temperature.
Temperature – Watch out for temperatures higher than 99.5 Fahrenheit (37.5 Celsius); in the case of neutropenia, the patient needs antibiotics as soon as possible.
Clean Your Hands – Brush up on how important hand washing is to prevent infection.
Bleeding and Bruising
Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) – Chemotherapy can lower the number of platelets in the blood putting the patient at risk for bleeding.
Ways to Manage Bleeding and Bruising – The National Cancer Institute provides steps to take for people at risk for bleeding, such as avoiding non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), using a soft toothbrush and electric shaver, and what to do if they start to bleed.
Internal and External Bleeding – Learn the necessary first aid steps for both internal and external bleeding.
Hypovolemic Shock – Excessive blood loss can lead to hypovolemic shock. This resource explores causes of hypovolemic shock and how to recognize this emergency condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration – Review information regarding dehydration.
Skin Turgor – Learn how to perform a skin turgor test to assess for dehydration.
Urine Output – Understand adult urine output and how dehydration affects it.
Nausea and Vomiting – Explore tips to help cancer patients manage nausea and vomiting.
Anti-nausea drugs or antiemetics – Become familiar with medication for the treatment of acute or delayed nausea and vomiting.
Diarrhea – Review tips to help cancer patients manage diarrhea.
Antidiarrheal Medication – This article discusses the conventional first-line treatments for chemotherapy-induced diarrhea, which are the opioids loperamide and diphenoxylate.
Food Safety – Take a look at these food tips for during and after cancer treatment to help prevent an infection.
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