Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Diarrhoea due to Radiotherapy

Diarrhoea is one potential side effect of cancer treatment. Radiation therapy to the abdominal area (mid-section of the body) can cause diarrhoea, as can certain chemotherapy medications. If you struggle with diarrhoea, there are several things you can do to address the problem and help your body.

 

The most important thing you can do to control diarrhoea during radiation therapy is to take medications as prescribed. As with many cancer treatment side effects, prevention is more effective than cure. Once diarrhoea is very severe, it can be more challenging to bring under control.

Severe diarrhoea causes dehydration and lose of important electrolytes (minerals),

Including sodium and potassium. This can be a life-threatening situation, so do not ignore diarrhoea. If your medical team prescribes medication to prevent diarrhoea, do not wait until you have diarrhoea to take it. For some cancer treatments, taking anti-diarrheal medications before the problem occurs is part of the plan.

Diarrheal diet: Using food to better manage diarrhoea.

In addition to medical management of this side effect, the following tips and tricks will help you manage diarrhoea:

  • Eat more high-soluble fibre foods including plain oatmeal, white rice, ripe bananas, applesauce, white toast, canned fruit without the skins, such as peaches and pears, white pasta noodles, cream of rice cereal, and plain unsweetened crackers.
  • Drink 8 cups of non-caffeinated fluid each day to prevent dehydration. Try water; coconut water; decaf, chamomile, and ginger teas; ginger ale; rice milk; and diluted fruit juices and nectars, such as peach, pear, mango, or papaya nectar (avoid grape and prune juices).
  • Avoid Milk and milk products. Exceptions are buttermilk and yogurt, which are often tolerated because lactose is altered by the presence of Lactobacillus. Processed cheese may also be tolerated because the lactose is removed with the whey when it is separated from the cheese curd. Milkshake supplements such as Ensure are lactose free and may be used.

AVOID THE FOLLOWING

  • Whole-bran bread and cereal.
  • Nuts, seeds, and coconuts.
  • Fried, greasy, or fatty foods.
  • Fresh and dried fruit and some fruit juices such as prune juice.
  • Raw vegetables.
  • Rich pastries.
  • Popcorn, potato chips, and pretzels.
  • Strong spices and herbs.
  • Chocolate, coffee, tea, and soft drinks with caffeine.
  • Alcohol and tobacco.

FOODS TO EAT

  • Fish, poultry, and meat that is cooked, broiled, or roasted.
  • Bananas, applesauce, peeled apples, and apple and grape juices.
  • White bread and toast.
  • Macaroni and noodles.
  • Baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes.
  • Cooked vegetables that are mild, such as asparagus tips, green and waxed beans, carrots, spinach, and squash.
  • Mild processed cheese, eggs, smooth peanut butter, buttermilk, and yogurt.
  • Helpful hints
  • Ingest food at room temperature.
  • Drink 3 LITRES of fluid per day. Allow carbonated beverages to lose carbonation before being ingested.
  • Add nutmeg to food, which will help decrease mobility of GI tract.
  • Start a low-residue diet on day 1 of radiation therapy treatment.
  • Rehydrate with a rehydration solution, Energade, Isotonic Game etc

MEDICATIONS THAT MAY BE PRESCRIBED

  • Lomitil, Gastron,Immodium
  • Kantrexel,Smecta, Pectin
  • Buscopan, Colofac
  • Codeine Phosphate, Morphine
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