Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Diarrhoea is a condition when bowel movements are frequent and may be soft, loose, or watery. Chemotherapy can cause diarrhoea because it harms healthy cells that line your large and small intestine. It may also speed up your bowel movements. Diarrhoea can also be caused by infections or drugs that are used to treat constipation.
Ways to Manage Diarrhoea:
- Eat 5 or 6 small meals or snacks each day instead of 3 large meals.
- Ask your doctor or nurse about foods that are high in salts such as sodium and potassium. Your body can lose these salts when you have diarrhoea, and it is important to replace them. Foods that are high in sodium or potassium include bananas, oranges, peach and apricot nectar and potatoes.
- Drink 8 to 12 cups of clear liquids each day. These include water, clear broth, ginger ale or sports drinks. Drink slowly and choose drinks that are at room temperature. Let carbonated drinks lose their fizz before you drink them. Add extra water if drinks make you thirsty or nauseous.
- Eat low-fibre foods. Foods that are high in fibre can cause diarrhoea. Low-fibre foods include bananas, white rice, white toast and plain or vanilla yoghurt.
- Let your doctor or nurse know if your diarrhoea lasts for more than 24 hours or if you have pain and cramping along with diarrhoea. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to control diarrhoea. You may also need IV fluids to replace the water and nutrients you lost. Do not take any medicine for diarrhoea without first asking your doctor or nurse.
- Be gentle when you wipe yourself after a bowel movement. Instead of toilet paper, use a baby wipe or squirt of water from a spray bottle to clean yourself after a bowl movement. Let your doctor or nurse know if your rectal area is sore, bleeds, or if you have haemorrhoids.
- Ask your doctor if you should try a clear liquid diet. This diet can give your bowels time to rest. Most people stay on this type of diet for five days or less.
Stay Away From:
- Drinks that are very hot or cold.
- Beer, wine, and other types of alcohol.
- Milk or dairy products such as ice cream, milkshakes, sour cream and cheese.
- Spicy foods such as hot sauce, chilli and curry dishes.
- Greasy and fried foods such as French fries and hamburgers.
- Food or drinks with caffeine such as regular coffee, black tea, cola and chocolate.
- Food or drinks that cause gas such as cooked dried beans, cabbage, broccoli, soy milk and other soy products.
- Foods that are high in fibre such as cooked dried beans, raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole-wheat breads and cereals.