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Patient Care
Diarrhea Management
Radiation treatment affects the cancer cells and the normal cells in the abdominal or pelvic area receiving treatment which may cause you to have diarrhea and increase gas and cramping.

Diarrhea caused by radiation is temporary and self-limiting (sometimes stopping by itself). The cells lining the stomach and intestines will renew themselves. The diarrhea should stop soon after treatment is completed.

Our main goal in managing diarrhea is encouraging patients to increase their fluid intake to help the body replace needed volume and valuable electrolytes in an effort to decrease the chances of dehydration. We encourage drinking fluids which include: bouillon, fruitades, cranberry, grape juices, Gatorade or other sports drinks, weak tepid tea, and gelatin.

Other suggestions on diarrhea management include but not limited to:
  • eating small frequent meals each day rather than 3 large meals
  • avoid greasy, fatty or fried foods (they tend to contribute to diarrhea)
  • reduce your fiber intake
  • milk and milk products may aggrivate diarrhea due to lactose intolerance
  • avoid foods that cause gas ie: carbonated beverages, beer, beans, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spicy foods, sweets, and chewing gum
  • eat foods containing pectin (bananas, avocados, asparagus, beets, unspiced applesauce or peeled apples) which also help replace potassium add nutmeg to foods (aids in decreasing gastric motility)
  • avoid foods that are stimulating or irritating to the gastrointestinal tract ie: whole grains, nuts, seeds, popcorn, pickles, relishes, rich pastries)
  • avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine- containing products and tobacco
  • avoid raw vegetables
  • eat/drink foods at room temperature (extremely hot or cold food might increase bowel activity)
  • avoid drinking fluids while eating food. brink liquids 30 min-1 hr after the meal
  • keep an estimate of the number of stools you have each day to guard against dehydration. ** (signs of dehydration include: skin or mouth dryness, decreased urine output sunken eyes, and marked fatigue)

    Other options would include "over the counter" drugs such as Immodium or Keopectate. You may also use Preparation H or besitin for anal irritation sometimes caused by frequent watery stools.

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