Diarrhea and Constipation are both common side effects of chemotherapy. Below are some tips to try to help combat each of these symptoms. You can also find this information online through the American Cancer Society or stop by our office and pick up a nutrition booklet from Ashley Johnson, Patient Wellness Navigator.
Things to do to help with Constipation:
- Try to eat at the same times each day.
- Try to have a bowel movement at the same time each day.
- Drink 8 to 10 cups of liquid each day, if it’s OK with your doctor. Try water, prune juice, warm juices, teas, and hot lemonade. (A hot beverage may help to stimulate a bowel movement.
- If you’re prone to constipation, try to set up a regular bowel plan. This may include an over-the-counter stool softener or psyllium fiber. Talk to your cancer care team about what to use.
- Use laxatives only as directed by your cancer care team. Contact your team if you haven’t had a bowel movement for 3 days or longer.
- If it’s OK with your cancer care team, eat high-fiber and bulky foods, like whole- grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables (raw and cooked with skins and peels on), and dried beans. Add these slowly to your diet to help avoid bloating and gas.
- Eat breakfasts that include a hot drink and high-fiber foods.
- Ask your dietitian to recommend a high-calorie, high-protein, fiber-containing liquid supplement if you need more of these.
- Limit drinks and foods that cause gas if it becomes a problem.
- To help lessen the amount of air you swallow while eating, try not to talk much at meals and don’t use straws to drink. Avoid chewing gum and carbonated drinks.
Things to do to help with Diarrhea:
- Drink plenty of mild, clear, non-carbonated liquids during the day. Drink liquids at room temperature. This may be easier to take than very hot or cold drinks.
- Eat small, frequent meals and snacks during the day.
- Avoid greasy, fried, spicy, or very sweet foods.
- Limit milk or milk products to 2 cups a day. Yogurt and buttermilk are OK.
- Avoid drinks and foods that cause gas, like carbonated drinks, gas-forming vegetables, and chewing gum. (A list of foods that might cause gas is in the section on constipation.) Allow carbonated drinks to become slightly “flat” before drinking by pouring them into a glass and letting them sit at least 10 minutes.
- Drink and eat high-sodium (salt) foods like broths, soups, sports drinks, crackers, and pretzels.
- Drink and eat high-potassium foods like fruit juices and nectars, sports drinks, potatoes with the skin, and bananas.
- Increase soluble-fiber foods like applesauce, bananas, canned peaches and pears, oats or oatmeal, and sweet potatoes.
- Drink at least 1 cup of liquid after each loose bowel movement. Try water, sports drinks, or bouillon.
- Do not chew sugar-free gum or eat candies and desserts made with sugar alcohol (i.e., sorbitol, mannitol, or xylitol) viagra pfizer.
- Call your cancer care team if diarrhea continues or increases, or if your stools have an unusual odor or color.
For more specifics, please contact us at Charleston Hematology Oncology Associates at 843-577-6957.