Radiation therapy can treat many types of cancer effectively. However, like other powerful treatments, a number of unpleasant side effects can occur during and after the treatment. These side effects all depend on the type of cancer, where it is located, the radiation therapy dose, and the overall health of the patient. The severity and nature of the side effects also vary from person to person and can last anywhere between a few hours, weeks, months, or even years. 

Common side effects of radiation include: 

  • Head and neck: Dry mouth, mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, stiffness in the jaw, nausea, hair loss, and tooth decay
  • Chest: Difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, breast soreness, shoulder stiffness, cough, fever, pneumonitis, and radiation fibrosis
  • Abdomen: Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Pelvis: Diarrhea, incontinence, and bladder irritation

Radiation and Bladder Irritation

Radiation can cause the bladder lining to become inflamed, which is a condition known as cystitis. Symptoms include pain or a burning sensation while urinating, increased frequency of urination, and a feeling of urgency to urinate. In extreme cases, bleeding, abdominal pain, and blood present in the urine can also occur. It is common for patients to start to experience these symptoms during the 2nd or 3rd week of radiation therapy,  and can sadly last for a long period of time after treatment.

What to do at home if you are suffering from cystitis:

  • Drink at least eight to ten glasses of liquids per day (preferably water)
  • Sometimes coffee, tea or alcohol can make cystitis worse, so try to avoid these beverages if possible
  • Try to urinate frequently and avoid “holding it in”
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing 

How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Help Radiation Cystitis

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a revolutionary medical treatment that helps the body’s natural healing process by inhalation of 100% oxygen in a total body chamber, where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. It is used for a wide variety of treatments and has shown to be very beneficial when it comes to helping patients requiring radiation cystitis treatment. By adding more oxygen into the bloodstream, HBOT helps overcome the vascular changes that are a result of radiation exposure. The pressurized oxygen dissolves directly into the body’s fluids and is delivered to previously damaged cells and tissues. HBOT, therefore, boosts vascular growth, which helps to heal the body and shows how cells can adapt to increased oxygen availability. As well as radiation cystitis treatment, HBOT also helps patients suffering from burns or wounds as well as other delayed radiation injuries. 

Studies have also shown that HBOT can relieve reported symptoms and side-effects of radiotherapy in the pelvic region. In one study at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, after 30-40 sessions in a hyperbaric chamber, many patients experienced reductions in bleeding, urinary incontinence, and severe abdominal pain. “It’s a great pleasure to hear patients tell us how they feel they’re returning to a normal human life, ” says Nicklas Oscarsson–the first author of the study. 

Expert HBOT Treatment For Radiation Cystitis

At R3 Wound Care & Hyperbarics, we offer patients the latest, most effective hyperbaric technology in a comfortable environment. HBOT treatment takes place in a clear reclining acrylic chamber where you can see your surroundings at all times. Here, our expert team will make you feel as relaxed as possible and monitor you throughout the sessions.

R3 Wound Care & Hyperbarics is a non-hospital based wound care clinic and hyperbaric center. With four locations in San Antonio, Dallas, Lewisville, and Arlington we are able to help patients suffering from unpleasant radiation symptoms and assist with the body’s overall healing. We also have in-network contracts with all of the major insurance providers and there’s no need to get a doctor referral for your treatment. To find out more about radiation cystitis treatment and various other HBOT treatment options, give us a call or visit your nearest location.