What To Do About Diarrhea
What to do when you have diarrhea from radiation therapy.
Let’s listen in as support group members and the group’s leader, Janet, talk about coping with diarrhea.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m beginning to feel like I live in the bathroom. Some days diarrhea keeps me close to home when I’d rather be out.
I’m glad you brought this topic up, Miguel. Many people getting radiation therapy to the pelvis, stomach, or abdomen have diarrhea. The good news is that there are things you can do to manage it. Let’s go over 3 steps that can help.
Thanks. That would be great.
First, drink lots of clear liquids like water, ginger ale and clear broth. Most people need to drink more liquids when they have diarrhea – 8 to 12 glasses a day. Check with your doctor to see how much liquid you should drink. Keep in mind that this won’t stop the diarrhea, but it will help replace the fluids you are losing.
Second, eat small meals every 2 or 3 hours that are easy on the stomach. Anyone ever heard of the BRAT diet?
Yeah. Let’s see… “B” is for bananas, then there’s “R” for rice, “A” for applesauce, and… oh, then there’s “T” for toast.
That’s it - bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
OK, on to the third step – avoid things that can make your diarrhea worse, like milk, alcohol, and drinks with caffeine in them. Stay away from raw fruits and vegetables that have a lot of fiber in them and stay away from fried or greasy foods. Ask your doctor about other foods you may need to avoid.
Is there medicine that can help?
Yes, medicine can help some people. Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that would be best for you.
Folks, one last thing – be sure to call your doctor or nurse right away if you’re dizzy or have diarrhea or stomach pain for more than a day. Okay?
Okay. Thanks for the information, Janet – I think I can do those things you mentioned.
Drink lots of clear liquids each day. Most people need to drink 8 to 12 glasses. Check with your doctor to see how much liquid you should drink each day.
It may also help to follow the BRAT diet. Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are easy on the stomach.
Avoid greasy or spicy foods. They can make your diarrhea worse, so can milk, alcohol, and drinks with caffeine in them.
Ask about medicine that can help, and be sure to let your doctor or nurse know if you’re dizzy or have diarrhea or stomach pain for more than a day.
Talk with your nurse to learn more about how to manage diarrhea during radiation therapy.