Cancer: Home Treatment for Constipation

Getting Started

These ideas can help you manage constipation caused by cancer or cancer treatment. If your doctor has given you instructions to treat constipation, be sure to follow them.

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
    • If you have heart failure or kidney failure, talk to your doctor about what amount of fluid is right for you.
    • Avoid alcohol. It can increase dehydration.
  • Include high-fiber foods in your diet each day.

    These foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. For example, have a bran muffin or bran cereal for breakfast. Eat a piece of fruit for an afternoon snack.

  • Be more active.

    But check with your doctor before you increase your physical activity, especially if you're getting cancer treatments. Talk with your doctor about what kind of exercise and how much exercise will help you.

  • Schedule time each day for a bowel movement.

    A daily routine may help. Take your time and don't strain having a bowel movement.

  • Support your feet with a small step stool when you sit on the toilet.

    This helps flex your hips and puts your pelvis in a squatting position.

  • Take a fiber supplement, such as Citrucel or Metamucil, every day.

    Read and follow all instructions on the label.

  • If constipation continues, talk to your doctor.

    Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter laxative such as Milk of Magnesia or MiraLax. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

    • Check with your doctor before you use any nonprescription medicines for constipation.
    • Do not use laxatives on a long-term basis.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You have new or worse nausea or vomiting.
  • You have blood in your stools.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your constipation is getting worse.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: May 4, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kenneth Bark MD - General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery

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