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Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a major symptom which occurs in most terminally-ill patients.  It needs to be controlled for the comfort of the patient and to lessen the load of the caregiver.

Diarrhea: Possible Causes

How You Can Help

Progression and treatment of the terminal illness – tumor obstruction, fecal impaction, radiation or chemotherapy, surgery

Talk to your hospice team nurse to understand how your loved one’s terminal illness can cause diarrhea.  Encourage and help your loved one take prescribed or recommended medicine to treat diarrhea.  Common medications to help relieve diarrhea include:  Kaopectate, Lomotil and Imodium.

Reduced digestion of food or medications

Do not further reduce the amount of liquids your loved one consumes.  Rather, offer favorite beverages and easily-digested foods.  Serve many small meals throughout the day rather than three large meals.

Liquids to Try

Liquids to Avoid (or use cautiously)

  • popsicles
  • broth
  • Gatorade
  • ice chips
  • diluted nutritional supplement
  • •  non-caffeinated soda pop
  • milk
  • caffeinated beverages (tea, coffee, soda)

Foods to Try

Foods to Avoid (or use cautiously)

  • gelatin
  • sherbet
  • tender baked poultry or ground meats
  • rice or plain pasta
  • white bread, toast or bread pudding
  • plain cereals (Corn Flakes, Rice Chex) or hot cereals such as oatmeal or cream of rice
  • canned peaches or other soft fruits
  • non-dairy cream on cereal
  • dairy or milk products such as ice cream
  • whole grain breads
  • dried beans
  • nuts
  • raisins
  • raw fruits and vegetables
  • cereals with bran
  • chocolate
  • fatty or acidic foods (fried meats, spicy dishes)