WellSpan Home

Cancer: Home Treatment for Constipation

Things you can do

Home treatment may be all that is needed to treat constipation caused by cancer, pain medicine, inactivity, or the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. If your doctor has given you instructions or medicines to treat constipation, be sure to follow them. Check with your doctor before using any nonprescription medicines for your constipation.

First:

  • Make sure you drink enough fluids.
    • Reduce your intake of alcoholic beverages. They can increase dehydration.
    • If you have heart failure or kidney failure, talk to your doctor about what amount of fluid is right for you.
  • Be more physically active. But check with your doctor before increasing your physical activity, especially if you are getting cancer treatments. Talk with your doctor about what kind of exercise and how much exercise will help you.
  • Include fruits, vegetables, and fiber in your diet each day. Have a bran muffin or some bran cereal for breakfast. And try eating a piece of fruit for a mid-afternoon snack.
  • Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. Setting a daily routine, such as after breakfast, may help. Take your time. Don't be in a hurry.

If you are still constipated:

  • Add some processed or synthetic fiber, such as Benefiber, Citrucel, FiberCon, Metamucil, or Perdiem, to your diet each day.
  • Try a stool softener, such as Colace, if your stools are very hard.

If constipation persists, your doctor may suggest a laxative, such as Phillip's Milk of Magnesia.

  • Do not use a laxative without consulting your doctor.
  • Do not take a laxative if you are on a sodium-restricted diet or have kidney problems.

You may sometimes need to try a stimulant laxative, such as Miralax.

  • Do not use laxatives without talking with your doctor.
  • Use these preparations sparingly. Regular use may interfere with your body's ability to absorb vitamin D and calcium. This can weaken your bones.
  • Overuse of stimulant laxatives reduces the tone and sensation in the large intestine, causing dependence on laxatives.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

If one or more of the following symptoms occur during home treatment, contact your doctor:

  • New constipation occurs or other bowel habit changes continue after 1 week of home treatment.
  • Ongoing (chronic) constipation:
    • Is causing new problems.
    • Has gotten worse.
    • Occurs along with other bowel habit changes, such as changes in the size, shape, or consistency of your stools.
  • Rectal pain develops or increases.
  • Blood in the stool develops or increases.
  • Belly pain or fever develops.
  • Uncontrolled leakage of stool occurs.
  • Your symptoms become more severe or more frequent.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKenneth Bark, MD - General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery

Current as ofMarch 28, 2018


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×