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Diarrhea

 

Some chemotherapy and other medicines can cause diarrhea. Radiation therapy focused on the stomach or intestines also can cause diarrhea. If these problems develop, you will need to tell the treatment team the color, size, and number of your child’s diarrhea stools.

Ideas that might help

These ideas may help if your child has diarrhea:

  • Have your child relax after meals with quiet play or a nap. This will slow bowel action. Your child may need bed rest if his diarrhea is severe.
  • Offer small amounts of food more often instead of large meals only a few times a day.
  • See if your child can avoid drinking with meals. Have him eat first, and then drink liquids about an hour later. Clear liquids may be easier for your child to take if he has severe diarrhea.
  • Avoid spicy foods, fried or fatty foods, and milk products. These can make diarrhea worse.
  • Avoid high-fiber foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, dried fruit, and cooked broccoli, corn, or cauliflower. These foods could make diarrhea worse.
  • Encourage a soft, bland diet that is high in potassium. Foods high in potassium that do not cause diarrhea include bananas, potatoes, and apricot or peach nectars.
  • For the first 6 to 12 hours after diarrhea has started, it may be helpful to give only clear liquids, such as caffeine-free soft drinks, Pedialyte®, or Gatorade®. Then slowly add bland, low-fiber solid food, such as mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, canned fruit, and oyster or saltine crackers. Check with the doctor before giving your child tea.

After 24 hours

Call the treatment team if the diarrhea does not improve after 24 hours or if your child:

  • Becomes tired or loses interest in usual activities;
  • Has more than 8 diarrhea stools in 24 hours; or
  • Goes more than 8 hours without urinating.

Questions?

If you have other questions or concerns about diarrhea, talk to your child’s nurse or doctor.


 

This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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