Experts and patients give their advice to help you manage GVHD of the gut symptoms

Posted August 13th, 2013 by Be The Match and filed in News, Patient Stories
Show Content

Dr Navneet for blogIf you have trouble eating or digesting due to Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) of the gut, there are simple steps you can take to improve your recovery and help you feel better.

Start by recognizing the symptoms

“For patients with acute GVHD, about half will also have GVHD of the gut,” says Dr. Navneet Majhail, Medical Director of NMDP/ Be The Match and Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Cleveland Clinic. “Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and abdominal pain. It’s important  to report any of these to your doctor right away. The sooner symptoms are identified, the sooner treatment can begin.”

Tips for managing nausea, and getting the nutrition you need

  1. Talk to your doctor about medications to control symptoms. “For example, if the thought or smell of food makes you sick, taking an anti-nausea medication 30 minutes before eating can help,” says Dr. Majhail. There are also drugs to help control the graft-versus-gut reaction.
  2. Take calorie supplements like Boost® and Ensure® to make sure you get the nutrition and calories your body needs. “Many patients find they tolerate these supplements best if taken cold throughout the day,” says Dr. Majhail.
  3. Eat small portions throughout the day. A healthy variety of foods, taken in small, but frequent meals can help you identify what foods you tolerate best. “While no particular diet is recommended for gut GVHD, spicy foods should be avoided,” says Dr. Majhail. “Some patients also find that dairy products can cause bloating or worsening of symptoms.”

Dr. Majhail also advises people dealing with GVHD of the gut to be patient. “Treatment for acute GVHD of the gut can take 6 to 8 weeks; chronic GVHD can take a year or longer. It can be frustrating, but it’s important to work closely with your doctor to determine the cause of the problem, what’s working, and when you need to adjust treatments. Together, we will find the solution to help you get better.”

Looking for more tips and advice? Read Dr. Majhail’s full interview.

Other patients share their tips for managing symptoms on Facebook Patients Connect

It’s been 13 months  since my transplant and I’m just now able to eat regular food, except still no fresh fruits and veggies.

I  eat rice, baked  potatoes, shredded chicken, and toast.  Low-fat and low-fiber food makes it easy to digest stuff. No dairy. Still dealing.

Working with a nutritionist is making a huge difference  for me. I  also avoid anything  processed. Low sugar, no gluten, corn, or dairy right now. My gut is healing so much better.  It’s truly fabulous.

NOTE: The patient comments above illustrate a wide range of individual experiences. They are not intended as medical advice. Always talk to your doctor before changing your diet or taking any non­ prescription medications or supplements, as they could cause negative interactions or side effects.

To join the discussion and share your own experiences and insights, visit Facebook Patients Connect.

Leave a Reply