Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home

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Swallowing problems

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Swelling

Sweating

Sweating is heavy perspiration that can happen at night or even when the room is cool. There may be enough to soak your clothes. Such sweating is common when a fever breaks. You may notice that you sweat a lot a short time after shaking chills. (See the section called “Fever.”)

What to look for

  • Feeling wet or damp during the night or waking up to find sheets damp
  • Fever followed by heavy sweating as the body temperature goes back down
  • Shaking chills
  • Drenching sweats even when there’s no fever

What the patient can do

  • Take medicine to reduce fever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), if you’ve been told to do so.
  • Dress in 2 layers of clothing. The layer on the inside will act as a wick to pull moisture up and away from the skin.
  • Change wet clothes as soon as you can.
  • Keep your bed linens dry.
  • If you’re sweating a lot, bathe at least once a day to soothe your skin and for good hygiene.

What caregivers can do

  • Help the patient keep clothes and bed linens dry.
  • Check the patient’s temperature by mouth a few times a day and in the evening.
  • Offer extra liquids to replace the fluid that’s lost through sweat.
  • Offer to help the patient with a tub bath or shower if needed.

Call the cancer team if the patient:

  • Becomes dehydrated from frequent soaking sweats (See the section called “Fluids (lack of) and dehydration.”)
  • Has fever of 100.5° F or higher (when taken by mouth) for more than 24 hours
  • Has tremors or shaking chills

Last Medical Review: 06/08/2015
Last Revised: 06/08/2015