• I have just started Chemo, how do you manage the never ending cycle of constipation, followed by diarrhea?

    Asked by GetItOut on Tuesday, June 12, 2018

    I have just started Chemo, how do you manage the never ending cycle of constipation, followed by diarrhea?

    It's like there is no in between, it's one or the other!

    13 Answers from the Community

    13 answers
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      Mine stayed constipation. It was horrendous. For constipation, I finally found that if I could make myself drink a lot ... A LOT ... of water, it wasn't so bad. Stool softeners might help, too.

      I am sorry that I don't really have any suggestions for the diarrhea. Except, make sure you stay hydrated.

      Good luck!!! Hopefully, your side effects will be like mine. I was MISERABLE for some of the time during the first week (it seemed like years), but during weeks two and three, I did okay. (I have lung cancer so my treatments were undoubtedly completely different - mine were on a 3-week rotation.)

      almost 2 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar

      Use Miralex for Constipation.

      almost 2 years ago
    • Skyemberr's Avatar

      You should talk to your doctors and tell them. You can get very dehydrated very quickly and need to be at urgent care, by the diarrhea. There is a medicine called lomotil that can be very effective in stopping it. It is like imodium but better.

      Then for the constipation they will likely tell you to take colace and miralax. Neither of those is a stimulant. My advice would be to avoid stimulant laxatives like Senokot or anything else with sennosides in it because it can hurt a lot by causing severe cramping.

      Good luck to you! I know it all feels miserable when dealing with this stuff.

      almost 2 years ago
    • cllinda's Avatar

      Chemo can be tough on all parts of the body. I'm sorry that you are dealing with this. It's hard enough trying to eat when your taste buds are all mixed up and then you have to deal with all of this.
      Keep hydrated. Drink Gatorade, gingerale, lemonade and water.
      And don't be afraid to call the office of things get out of control. Hugs to you on this part of the journey.

      almost 2 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      30 years ago, or so, my doctors gave me a handful of little white pills with the statement of "if you get the runs, take these". They were like a giant cork. Nothing came out for days, then it was extremely painful.

      almost 2 years ago
    • JaneA's Avatar

      Some of the anti-nausea medicine that they give you before your chemo drugs are infused contribute to the constipation. A common effect of lots of chemo drugs is diarrhea. So it's no uncommon to see this alternating cycle.

      My colorectal surgeon suggests Milk of Magnesia for constipation because magnesium is naturally occuring in the body.

      For diarrhea, remember the BRAT diet - it stands for Banana, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. These foods slow everything down in your colon is help control diarrhea. Saltines and peanut butter also help control diarrhea. Just be sure to stay hydrated.

      almost 2 years ago
    • myb's Avatar

      In the beginning, I used to take Miralax everyday and added colace and senna during chemo days. About 3/4 of the way through, I started having oatmeal for breakfast everyday and no more need for any of it.

      almost 2 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar

      You dont control chemotherapy; it controls you.

      For the mouth horrors, there is a little berry calked "miracle fruit". Any search engine will tell you all about it. Popping one little berry into your mouth, lightly breaking the skin and rolling the juice all around in your mouth does an amazing thing. The seed is big so when you have sucked all the flesh, you just spit it out. For about an hour, your taste buds are tricked and everything tastes just like candy. You can chew one a lemon slice and it is yumny good!

      For constipation, soak raisins or prunes in water to cover plus an inch until they have plumped up. Drain the soak water into a glass and drink it up. It is heavenly sweet. The rehydrated fruit can be eaten with cereal, in a smoothie, a parfait or whatever. Doing this once or twice a day, three or four times will get rid of constipation. There is no shame in keeping yourself regular this way.

      You could also use psyllium husks. It is the main component of Miralax but without the orange chemicals. A spoonful mixed into a glass of water followed immediately by a second glass of water and, in short order, you are ready to go.

      Stay fully hydrated. Most folks walk through their days slightly dehydrated. You dont get thirsty until after you are already dehydrated.

      Diarrhea is a differently treated poo. You need more fiber in your already confounded diet to get regular. The BRAT diet acts like a sponge. Please do not forget to either presoak the rice and toss the soak water or to boil rice like you would spaghetti, draining it once cooked rather than allowing it to soak up the cook water. The soil in which rice is now groen is likely ridiculously polluted with arsenic. I like to eat nuts and seed to give myself fiber and more minerals. Mixed with rehydrated or fresh fruit, it is all scrumptious.

      almost 2 years ago
    • GetItOut's Avatar

      Thanks, I will tell my oncologist, I haven't gotten used to sharing all of these things that are a little to "personal" with them yet.

      almost 2 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      Don't hesitate to get personal with them! That's part of why there is a team, including the nurses. I always ran any OTC med with my team before using. I would have to occasionally balance generic Imodium with a stool softener. Not fun!

      almost 2 years ago
    • barbbigred's Avatar

      I know that different people, and different chemo mixes ... result in different levels of the constipation and diarrhea ... so I'll share what worked for me. I found the constipation was about a 3 -5 day cycle and I drank not only water, but prune juice. ALSO ... Taco Bell bean burritos were the magic food for me. LOL ... take it for what it's worth. The diarrhea was just a matter of not allowing my husband to use the closest bathroom ... LOL ... and LOTS of TP readily available. I never did find an answer to that one ... but you know what ... all in all ... this means YOU ARE KILLING CANCER CELLS - they have to go somewhere ... whatever it takes ... just get them dead and gone!

      almost 2 years ago
    • JustForToday's Avatar

      It is a small thing shared by one of my chemo infusion nurses. She experienced issues during pregnancy and suggested this to me for my issues during chemotherapy. Immediately after each meal, take a 15 minute walk. I was skeptical. I was surprised that it did help with failure to eliminate. Sorry, I have nothing to offer for the diarrhea.

      almost 2 years ago
    • domhnall's Avatar

      With as much grace and patience as possible. AND lots of moistened bathroom wipes. During treatment I bounced back and forth between constipation and diarrhea. LOTS of water at all times helps. I have added a daily portion of prunes, take lomotil every other evening and stool softeners at night. Though I have pretty much balanced back to normal, I still experience either d or c every few weeks. BTW some of this was stirred up by my chemo.

      over 1 year ago

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