Pain Management Center

HomePatient EducationManaging Symptoms

Managing Symptoms

Dietary Modifications

  • Eat and drink slowly.

  • Eat small, frequent meals.

  • Drink small amounts of cool liquids, such as ginger ale, 7 Up, Jello water, etc.

  • Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine such as chocolate, coffee, tea, and cola.

  • Avoid drinking liquids with meals and immediately before or after meals.

  • Avoid fatty or greasy foods.

Comfort Modifications

  • Change positions slowly.

  • Sit in an upright position for at least one-half hour after eating.

  • Perform oral hygiene frequently, especially before meals.

  • To avoid exhaustion, plan rest periods before meals, and fix easy-to-prepare meals.

  • Perform deep breathing and swallowing to suppress gag reflex.

Environmental Modifications

  • Maintain a neat, clean environment.

  • Eliminate noxious sights and smells.

  • Serve food attractively.

Medications

  • Take medication as prescribed.

  • If you think that a medication is causing nausea, discuss this with your physician or pharmacist.

  • Take an antinausea medication (antiemetic) one-half hour before meals.

Managing Diarrhea

Perform good personal hygiene after each bowel movement to prevent skin breakdown.
Wipe the anal area thoroughly and wash area with warm water if necessary.  Witch hazel swabs (Tucks, others) or witch hazel liquid on a piece of cotton can be a soothing way to cleanse the anus

  • Avoid coarse, irritating foods.

  • Avoid high-residue foods, such as vegetables, whole-grain cereals, and breads.

  • Avoid extremely hot or cold foods, which may increase intestinal motility.

  • If diarrhea is due to a viral infection, let the bowel rest (ingest only clear liquids) for approximately 24 hours.

  • Replace fluids and electrolytes (salts) by consuming fluids such as Gatorade, bouillon, and soft drinks.

  • Begin with clear liquids, progress to small, frequent meals of bland, high-carbohydrate foods such as rice, cooked cereal, bananas, baked or broiled potatoes, etc.

  • If you think that your diarrhea is due to medication, discuss this with your physician or pharmacist.

  • Take antidiarrheal medications as recommended by your doctor and pharmacist.

Managing Constipation

General

  • Increase fluid intake to at least eight glasses of six ounces of water or juice per day.

  • Minimize liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine because they make your body lose water.

  • Eat a diet high in fiber.

  • Avoid foods with white sugar, pasta, pastries, cheese, and rice.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Drink a warm liquid one-half hour before breakfast to stimulate a bowel movement.

  • Sit in a modified squatting position for evacuations by placing feet on a stool.

  • Avoid using laxatives and enemas more than once per week.

Fiber

Sources of Fiber

  • cellulose

    • vegetables

  • whole-grain products

  • hemicellulose

    • bran cereal

    • whole-grain products

  • gums (decrease cholesterol and blood sugar)

    • legumes (dried peas and beans)

    • oat bran

  • pectin

    • apples

    • citrus

Tips on Increasing Fiber in Your Diet

  • Increase fiber slowly to give your body time to adjust to it.  This will minimize gas and cramping problems.

  • Increase fluids along with fiber to prevent constipation.

  • Obtain fiber from a variety of sources.

  • Eat whole-grain food because processing tends to decrease fiber content.

  • Choose fruits and vegetables with edible skins and seeds.

  • Eat whole grains such as barley, bran, brown rice, buckwheat, groats, cornmeal, popcorn, whole wheat, and wheat germ.

  • Store whole grain carefully; it is more perishable than refined grain.

  • Avoid medication after bran cereal because bran can block medication absorption.

  • Do not take fiber supplements unless discussed with your physician.

Fiber Content per Ounce of Food

  • fruit: 2 grams

  • vegetable: 2 grams

  • starchy vegetable: 3 grams

  • legumes: 8 grams

  • whole-grain products: 2 grams

  • cereal: 3 grams

  • Bran cereal: 8 grams

  • nuts and seeds: 3 grams