Guide to Managing Your Chemotherapy Treatment: Nausea & Diarrhea

MD Anderson Cancer Center
Date: November 2012

>> Chemotherapy may cause side effects in the digestive track such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.  Many chemotherapy medicines cause nausea and or vomiting within twenty four hours of treatment and this could last for a few days.  There are a number of effective prescription medications available to prevent or control chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting.  Be sure to talk to your doctor about these medicines.  To reduce nausea, eat small frequent meals throughout the day, choose dry foods like toast and crackers and cold or bland food without a strong odor.  And be sure to drink plenty of fluids.  Avoid high fat, hot and spicy foods and here's one more tip. 

>> Avoid your favorite foods when you're nauseated because you may later associate those foods with the nausea and then they are not going to be desirable. 

>> Diarrhea and constipation are very common while on chemotherapy, you may have one or the other or switch between the two, be sure to tell your doctor if you experience diarrhea or constipation because there are medications that can help prevent and manage both. 

>> The chemo was...can possibly give you all types of diarrhea and then the meds that you have to help with your chemo, then they give you the constipation, so your body is all confused and sometimes you feel like, okay, wait. Am I going to throw up or is it going to come out? 

>> If you're experiencing diarrhea, drink at least eight to twelve eight ounce glasses of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids each day to avoid dehydration.  Also increase your intake of foods high in potassium and sodium, avoid high fiber and high fat foods. 

>> The diarrhea it's an ongoing battle and then it has a lot to do with what you eat. 

>> There's something called the BRAT diet, which is bananas, rice, apple sauce, and toast and these are foods that are typically known to help thicken your stool. 

>> If you're experiencing constipation, some changes in your eating habits may help.  Eat regularly scheduled meals at the same time each day, drink lots of fluids and increase your fiber intake. 

>> The constipation was terrible, it was awful and you had to deal with it in a way that whatever you had to do.  You know stool softeners are your friend, don't be afraid of them. 

>> You can find a complete list of foods to include and avoid in your guide.