Beating Diarrhoea- A Chemotherapy side effect


Most cancer patients feel uneasy and irritable due to the side effects of their treatments. The radiations that the patient is exposed to while undergoing this treatment are not good for healthy people but these risks are immaterial when you think about the benefit for the patients in it. The gastrointestinal side effects of the treatment leave the patient flustered and uncomfortable. Let us take a look at the ways in which these can be dealt with effectively.

When you have bowel movements more often that what is normal, and they are soft, loose and watery, you might have diarrhoea.
Following are the symptoms:

  • feeling dizzy
  • having a fever of 100.5° F or higher
  • having stomach pain and cramps for more than a day
  • Rectal area becomes sore or bleeds.

If you observe these symptoms, visit the doctor and do not take any medicines other than those prescribed by your doctor.
Certain food habits can reduce or deteriorate this problem. Here are a few do’s and don’ts,


  • Exclude spicy, greasy, or fried foods.
  • Avoid having milk or dairy products such as cheese or ice cream. You can check food labels to see if milk products are listed in the ingredients. You may try “lactose-free” products instead.
  • Avoid having caffeine in any form. For example, coffee, chocolate etc. even though coffee will help you in beating fatigue; the caffeine content will worsen the diarrhoea.
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages.
  • Avoid or have lesser quantities of raw fruit, vegetables, and whole wheat breads and cereals.

Instead, you could have more juices and parboiled vegetables and toasted breads etc. Canned fruits and vegetables without skins and seeds are easy on the stomach.

  • Consult your doctor or nurse regarding your diet.
  • Avoid all types of food that can cause acidity and gas problems in the stomach.
  • Try to eat 4-5 small meals throughout the day, instead of 3 large meals.
  • To beat diarrhoea, your doctor may recommend the BRAT diet. BRAT stands for:
    1. Bananas
    2. Rice
    3. Applesauce
    4. Toast
  • Drink more liquids. Although, drinking more liquids won’t stop the diarrhoea, it will definitely help in replacing the fluids you are losing.
  • People, who have diarrhoea, need to drink 8 to 12 cups of liquids every day. Clear soda, ginger ale, Cranberry or grape juice, tea (without caffeine), water and chicken or vegetable broths are recommended.
  • Meats, such as chicken, fish, or turkey (boiled or baked), noodles, oatmeal, peanut butter that is creamy or smooth, potatoes (boiled and without the skin), white rice, white toast are the food items that are recommended for easy digestion and easy bowel movement.
  • While we have discussed all the dos and don’ts of the diarrhoea caused as a side effect of cancer treatments, it is important to note that taking good care of your rectal region also becomes important in such a situation. Consult a doctor for medicinal and other concerns.