Understanding Chemotherapy: A Guide for Patients and Families

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Constipation

Some people become constipated (have trouble passing bowel movements) from chemo. Others may become constipated because they are less active, eat less than usual, have diet changes, or because they are taking certain pain medicines. Tell your doctor if you haven’t had a bowel movement in 2 or more days. You may need to take a laxative or stool softener, but don’t use these unless you have checked with your doctor, especially if your white blood cell count or platelet count is low.

Things that may help you deal with constipation:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to help keep your stool soft. Warm and hot fluids often work well.
  • Eat a lot of high-fiber foods. High-fiber foods include bran, whole-wheat breads and cereals, raw or cooked vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, nuts, and popcorn.
  • Get some exercise. Just getting out for a walk can help, as can a planned exercise program. Be sure to check with your doctor before increasing your physical activity.

Last Medical Review: 03/07/2013
Last Revised: 03/07/2013