Cold and flu symptoms include:
- feeling tired
- runny nose
- muscle aches
- sore or scratchy throat
- watery eyes
- low-grade fever (1 or 2 degree higher than normal)
Several breast cancer treatments can cause cold and flu symptoms:
- Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab), a targeted therapy
- Evista (chemical name: raloxifene), a hormonal therapy
- Faslodex (chemical name: fulvestrant), a hormonal therapy
Several pain medications, such as ibuprofen and morphine, can also cause cold- and flu-like symptoms.
Managing cold/flu symptoms
If you start to have cold or flu symptoms during your treatment for breast cancer, talk to your doctor. Sometimes these symptoms go away after the first few treatments. If they don't, there may be other medications you can take that will make you feel better. Your doctor can also make sure that you really don't have a cold or the flu.
Always check with your doctor before you take any supplements such as echinacea, zinc, or vitamin C that are thought to ease cold symptoms. Some supplements can interfere with breast cancer treatment and should not be taken.
Other tips to ease cold/flu symptoms:
- Rest, especially if you have a low-grade fever.
- Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke, both of which can make your symptoms worse.
- Drink plenty of clear liquids such as water, fruit juice, and clear soups.
- Don't drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks. They can dehydrate you, which will make you feel worse.
- Gargle with warm salt water a few times a day to ease a sore throat.
- Use throat sprays or lozenges to soothe a scratchy throat.
- Use tissues with aloe or lotion in them; they can be soothing on a sore, runny nose.
- Eat chilled foods such as popsicles, applesauce, flavored gelatin, and sherbet. The coolness is soothing to a sore throat.
For more tips, ask the members of the Breastcancer.org Discussion Boards for advice.