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Top 10 Eating Problems During Cancer Treatment

Sore Mouth

Cancer treatment can cause mouth sores and increase the chance of oral infections, such as thrush. Ask your doctor about special mouthwashes, anesthetic lozenges, or sprays that can relieve the irritation. Eat moist, soft foods that are not too spicy and are easy to swallow.
 

Sore Throat or Trouble Swallowing

Chemotherapy or radiation treatment of the head and neck often causes a sore throat. Choose foods that are nutritious and easy to swallow, like cooked cereal, scrambled eggs, custard, or soup. It may be easier to eat multiple small meals every day instead of three large meals.
 

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance can appear suddenly as a consequence of radiation treatments, chemotherapy, or use of antibiotics. If milk causes stomach upset, try drinking reduced-lactose milk or milk that contains lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose. Aged cheeses and yogurt may cause less of a problem, while soy products do not have any lactose.
 

Nausea and Vomiting

Both cancer treatment and the disease itself can cause nausea or vomiting. Persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. Try to eat foods that are easy to digest, like Cream of Wheat, vanilla yogurt, and gelatin, rather than skipping meals. Having an empty stomach can make nausea worse. Talk to your doctor about prescription medications, herbal remedies, and relaxing activities that can help reduce the occurrence of nausea and vomiting.
 

Diarrhea

Cancer treatment, infections, or antibiotics can cause diarrhea, described as frequent, watery bowel movements. It is important to replace the lost fluid by drinking water, noncarbonated drinks, or sports drinks containing sodium and potassium. Some doctors recommend eating small amounts of low-fiber foods, such as bananas, rice, applesauce, and white toast.
 
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