Radiotherapy Patient information

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Review these instructions with your health care team prior to using them

Instructions for Patients Receiving Radiation to the Abdominal or Pelvic Area

This low-residue diet provides food which will produce only a moderate amount of internal residue and therefore a reduced amount of stool in the lower bowel.

As the Radiation Oncologist explained, diarrhea can occur two to three weeks after the treatment begins. Diarrhea can cause malnutrition as well as fluid and electrolyte imbalance. For these reasons, it is very important to keep diarrhea under control. Please report the presence of diarrhea to the radiation oncology team. A combination of Low Residue Diet and anti-diarrhea medication will help you keep this unpleasant side effect under control. If you have further questions contact your health care team.

You can take up to 8 tablets of Imodium, one after each loose stool (available over the counter without a prescription) a day. Take one after each loose stool and continue until diarrhea stops. Start taking Imodium cautiously as it can be very constipating. The following dietary instructions will help:


    1.     Increase your fluid intake. Drink plenty of water each day.

    2.     Eliminate milk and milk products until diarrhea is under control, then you may use milk again. STOP IF DIARRHEA GETS WORSE.

    3.     Eat smaller, more frequent meals (example: five (5) smaller meals as compared to three (3) large ones).

    4.     Avoid raw vegetables and fruits. Avoid foods with a high roughage content (salads, corn, etc.)

    5.    Cut down on alcohol consumption. Alcohol stimulates peristalsis and irritates the stomach.

    6.     Avoid tobacco products. Tobacco stimulates peristalsis and may impair some people in their eating.

    7.     Avoid extremely hot or cold foods. Foods served warm or at room temperature are more easily tolerated.

    8.     Avoid items that can produce gas or cause cramps, such as carbonated drinks, chewing gum, beans, cabbage, highly spiced foods, skipping meals and swallowing air while talking and eating.

    9.     Include foods high in potassium daily, These foods include bananas, potatoes, red meat, apricot nectar and vegetable juices.

   10.    Add nutmeg to foods. This spice will decrease the motility of the gastrointestinal track.

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