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Oncology: Controlling Constipation

Constipation (difficulty passing stool) is a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Constipation can be caused by the medications you are taking. It can also occur if you’re not getting enough exercise and nourishment. Fluids are important in managing constipation.

Man and woman outdoors, walking.

3 Steps to Help Treat Constipation

1. Drink Plenty of Fluids

Water, prune juice, and warm drinks without caffeine are good choices.

2. Eat High-Fiber Foods

Whole grains, fruit, and vegetables all can help prevent constipation.

3. Exercise Often

Taking a short walk each day is a good way to start. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

 

Call the Doctor If:

  • You have no bowel movement in three days or more, especially if you are taking vinca alkaloids.

  • You are vomiting.

  • You have pain in your abdomen.

Medications Can Also Help

Ask your doctor about the medications used to manage constipation. A stool softener or laxative may be prescribed. These can relieve constipation by helping you have a bowel movement. Do not take any over-the-counter product without asking your doctor first.

Online Medical Reviewer: de la Cruz, Marlene, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Held-Warmkessell, MSN
Last Review Date: 1/31/2012
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.