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Bruising and Chemotherapy

Bruising and Chemotherapy

How does chemotherapy cause blood clots and bruising?

Chemotherapy can affect the bone marrow. This is where platelets are made. Platelets are the blood cells that help stop bleeding.If your platelets are lower than normal, ou may bruise or bleed more easily than usual, even without an injury.

Whether bruising or bleeding happens depends on the type and amount of chemotherapy you are getting. Knowing that these side effects can happen and understanding how to manage them can help to lessen the symptoms and provide you with the best possible experience with chemotherapy. 

What should I look out for?

Bleeding is considered a potentially life-threatening side effect. The National Cancer Institute recommends consulting your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained or unexpected bruising

  • Small, red spots under the skin

  • Bleeding from your gums

  • Bleeding from your nose

  • Reddish or pinkish urine

  • Black or bloody bowel movements

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding

  • Headaches or changes in vision

  • A warm or hot area on an arm or leg

  • Feeling very sleepy or confused

How can I prevent problems if my platelet count is low?

Consider the following tips to prevent problems due to a low platelet count:

  • Do not take any vitamins, herbal remedies, or over-the-counter medicines without first consulting your healthcare provider. Many of these products can affect platelet counts.

  • Consult your healthcare provider before drinking any alcoholic beverages.

  • Use a very soft toothbrush to clean your teeth. Ask your healthcare provider if it is okay to floss. 

  • Avoid forcefully blowing your nose.

  • Be careful not to cut or burn yourself. Use an electric shaver instead of a razor.

  • Avoid contact sports and other activities that might lead to injury.

  • Check with your healthcare provider to see if it is necessary for you to avoid sexual activity.

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