Radiation is used in the treatment of cancer and comes with risks. Radiation enteritis is one of these risks. This condition is caused by the inflammation of your small intestine from radiation treatments in your stomach, sexual organs, or rectum.
Radiation enteritis can cause the loss of both intestine cells and tissue.
There are two types of radiation enteritis: acute and chronic. Acute enteritis shows up while you are getting radiation treatments. The condition will last until about eight weeks after your last radiation treatment. Chronic enteritis can cause symptoms that last for months to years after you complete treatment.
Symptoms of enteritis include:
Your bowel movements are the number one way a doctor will determine if you have enteritis. Your doctor might ask certain questions to get a clear picture of your symptoms. Some of these questions include when the diarrhea started, how long it lasted, what it looked like, and how often you have to use the bathroom. Your doctor will also ask about your current diet.
Your physical exam can include one of the following procedures:
Some common treatments for enteritis include:
Doctors will often suggest that people affected by radiation enteritis make changes in their diet. These changes are designed to lessen aggravation to the digestive system.
The following foods should be on your “do not eat” list:
Including the following foods in your diet will help:
Most people are able to treat enteritis with dietary changes alone. However, if there is severe damage to your intestines, you may need intestinal bypass surgery. This is a surgical procedure where the damaged parts of your intestine is removed and the healthy parts are connected. This is relatively rare.
The following factors can affect your chances of developing radiation enteritis:
When you go through radiation treatment, your doctor will take steps to reduce the chances of enteritis. These prevention methods may include: