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Diarrhea

Diarrhea means having more than two loose or watery stools per day. Diarrhea can be caused by cancer treatments, certain medications, food sensitivity, infection or emotional upset. Diarrhea may lead to weakness, dehydration, poor appetite and weight loss.

  • Drink plenty of clear liquids throughout the day like water, decaffeinated tea, clear soups/broth, popsicles, gelatins and sports drinks.
  • Drink at least 1 cup of clear fluids after each loose bowel movement.
  • Choose beverages that do not have caffeine.
  • Room temperature liquids may be better tolerated.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat smaller meals and snacks more often.
  • Avoid spicy, greasy, fried and very sweet foods.
  • Limit dairy products to 2 cups per day. Try milk products that have lactose removed like Lactaid® or Dairy-Ease®.
  • A low-fiber diet may help decrease cramps and gas. Low-fiber foods include white rice, noodles, white bread, mashed potatoes, soft cooked vegetables, soft canned/cooked fruit without skins (like banana or applesauce), skinned turkey or chicken, lean ground beef, cooked fish and cooked eggs.
  • Limit sugar-free foods and beverages made with sugar replacers like sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol. These may worsen diarrhea.
  • Your medical provider may recommend an anti-diarrheal medication or bulking agent containing psyllium fiber like Metamucil®.

These suggestions are not meant to replace talking to your doctor and registered dietitian. For more information regarding diarrhea, schedule an appointment with the Registered Dietitian at the UW Carbone Cancer Center by contacting Cancer Connect by calling by calling (608) 265-1700.