Unfortunately many people experience diarrhea as a result of following their cancer treatment. Here are a few tips and strategies to help control and possibly even eliminate your diarrhea.

Diarrhea Coping Strategies:

  • Eat small meals; your body won’t have as much to digest at one time. Make sure to rest after the meals as well.
  • Plain, bland foods may be best during an episode (e.g., rice).
  • Eat low fiber foods. Foods such as rice, applesauce, meats, toast, eggs and bananas will help make your bowel movement less loose.
  • Eat foods that are high in protein, calories, and minerals, such as pretzels, crackers, cereals, cottage cheese, eggs, baked potatoes, white toast, applesauce, pasta, peanut butter, and yogurt, if you can tolerate it.
  • Drink only clear liquids like water, broth, apple juice, Gatorade-like products and water to help stop your diarrhea. Be sure to avoid milk products because being unable to digest milk can cause diarrhea.
  • Avoid foods that irritate your digestive tract, such as spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine and high-fiber or high fat foods.
  • Avoid raw vegetables and fruits, strong spices, high fiber breads and cereals, nuts, and popcorn when experiencing diarrhea.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid extremely hot or cold drinks.

During an episode, be sure to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day to replenish all the fluid your body is losing so that you do not become dehydrated. Be sure to eat foods that are high in potassium such as potatoes, apricots, bananas, oranges and peaches to replenish the supply of potassium that your body has lost due to diarrhea.

If all else fails, there are also medication options. There are many anti-diarrheal medications available over the counter, such as Immodium AD and Pepto-Bismol, and as a prescription. Consult your physician before taking any over-the-counter medication and for how best to manage your diarrhea.

Helpful Links:

Diarrhea: Cancer-related causes and how to cope
American Cancer Society: Diarrhea
Gastrointestinal Complications