Stomach Digestion and Bowels

Man on a bed holding stomach

Here are some tips for you to help manage any discomfort your loved one may be feeling:


Tips for Nausea or Vomiting

  • Try circulating fresh air by turning on a fan or opening a window.
  • Apply a cool compress to the forehead.
  • Offer small sips of clear beverages such as ginger ale, seltzer or broth.
  • Offer food at moderate or room temperature.
  • Offer high-carbohydrate foods such as white toast, crackers and dry cereal; avoid fatty and spicy foods and preparing foods with strong odors.
  • Drink cold water or carbonated beverages between meals rather than during meals.
  • Rest after eating; don’t lie flat for at least one hour after eating.
  • Ask your RN Case Manager about anti-nausea or vomiting medication.

Tips to Avoid Constipation

  • Increase your fluid intake; offer a hot beverage in the morning.
  • Gradually increase the fiber in your meal planning, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and dried fruits.
  • Add unprocessed bran to soups, cooked cereals and casseroles (start with two teaspoons of bran per day and gradually increase to two tablespoons per day).
  • Offer snack foods that include popcorn, dried fruits and nuts.
  • Ask your RN Case Manager about laxative and stool softener use.

Tips for Incontinence

  • Keep the person clean and dry using underpads or disposable adult diapers.
  • Apply lotions or creams as recommended by your hospice nurse.
  • Be sure to preserve the patient’s dignity with privacy when changing pads or diapers.
  • Keep a log of changes in activity (frequency of bowel movements and urination, color of urine, any blood in discharge, etc.).
  • Your nurse or doctor may recommend a catheter for problems with urination.

Tips to Avoid Diarrhea

  • Limit high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Eat bland, soft foods such as rice, noodles, mashed potatoes, white toast, bananas and tender meats.
  • Avoid gaseous foods such as cabbage, beans, corn and spices.
  • Avoid milk and milk products.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Drink liquids at moderate temperatures.
  • Eat foods at moderate temperatures.
  • Avoid anything that over-stimulates the colon.

Changes in diet, decreased physical activity, and side effects from certain medications can contribute to changes in your loved one’s digestion.

Nausea is a common side effect for individuals just starting a new pain medication. This usually passes in a few days.