Radiation enteritis is often temporary. Your signs and symptoms may subside in the weeks after your treatment ends. During this time, your doctor may recommend treatments to relieve your signs and symptoms. If your radiation enteritis persists, your doctor may recommend other treatments.
Treatment for temporary radiation enteritis signs and symptoms
If you experience signs and symptoms of radiation enteritis, your doctor may recommend:
- Anti-diarrheal medications
- Dietary changes, such as reducing your intake of dairy products, fatty foods and high-fiber foods
- Pain medications to relieve pain of inflammation
Treatment for chronic radiation enteritis
Radiation enteritis that persists after treatment or that develops months or years after treatment is called chronic radiation enteritis. Treatment for chronic radiation enteritis is similar to treatments used for temporary radiation enteritis, but may also include:
July 25, 2014
- Nutritional support. Inflammation in your small intestine may reduce your body's ability to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. Nutritional support in the form of tube feeding (home enteral nutrition) or infusions of nutrients into a vein (home parenteral nutrition) may help make sure you get the energy and nutrients you need.
- Antibiotics. Inflammation caused by radiation may lead to a bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. This can occur if the bacteria that normally live in the large intestine grow in the small intestine. Antibiotics can control bacteria overgrowth.
- Surgery. In rare cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the affected intestine or to construct a way for waste to avoid that section (intestinal bypass). Surgery is generally used when other alternatives are exhausted, since surgery carries a risk of complications.
- Yeo CJ, et al. Shackelford's Surgery of the Alimentary Tract. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
- Roberts I. Diagnosis and management of chronic radiation enteritis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
- Radiation enteritis. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/gastrointestinalcomplications/Patient/page6. Accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
- Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 9, 2013.
- Picco MJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. April 28, 2014.
- Czito BG, et al. Gastrointestinal toxicity of radiation therapy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 7, 2014.