Living with Cancer : Constipation Remedies

constripation during chemoterapy. Image of frog sat on toilet with a plumber and plunger
constripation during chemoterapy. Image of frog sat on toilet with a plumber and plunger
Tips on how to cope with constipation on chemotherapy

Constipation during Chemotherapy

Apologies if this article is a little too much information but going through cancer has at least made me more comfortable talking about my bowels well to be honest I dont really have a choice.

During chemotherapy my constipation got so bad I got to the point where I wanted to call an ambulance as I was in so much pain.

Haemorrhoids during Chemotherapy

I also have the joys of haemorrhoids (piles) from my cancer spreading and the treatment I am receiving.

Bloody haemorrhoids at 36 years of age. I know pregnant woman can suffer from piles but at least they are going to get a lovely baby at the end of it what do I get….

Its due to the medication and is a common side effect I dont know what is better constipation or diarrhoea as after the medication for constripation finally kicked it, it went toally the other way.

If you do suffer from constipation / diarrhoea or piles then do speak to your health care team. My district nurse got me a gel cushion to sit on. I used Movicol and then had to use diarrhea meds all prescribed by oncologist.

Haemorrhoid Cream

To sooth my haemorrhoids I used a cream. I tried a few different brands but the one I found most effective was Anusol (the name explains it all really!!)

Bathe Haemorrhoids

I spent some time on google trying to find out how to ease the pain of the piles and came across bathing them in Epsom Salts.

You could either puts some Epsom salts in a bath or get a portable bidet that goes onto the toilet. This is what I did as I am too weak to get in a bath. I use epsom salt for other things as it is a great product.

I was a bit sceptical about this as I was in so much pain but after doing it once it already started to ease the pain so this is something I would definitely recommend if your piles are sore.

Also a good tip is to use wet wipes instead of toilet paper it will be a little gentler.

Remedies for constipation

You can get constipation at any time of your life and I have been bunged up before but nothing like when I am on chemotherapy. Now I have stage 4 cancer I am on permanent chemotherapy so I have been do quite a bit of research into constipation remedies.

Some constipation medicine works for a while and then stops so I need to try something else.

I had been given some constipation sachets to have on a regular basis and then a softener in case things got bad but I left it way too late and even though this happened during my primary cancer I said I would never let the constipation get so bad again. But its hard as you loose track of days and I didnt realise I hadn’t been to the toilet until it came to 1 week and I knew I had to do something.

Keep on top of the medications that you at given even if you dont think you need them. As everyone is different it may take you some time to find out how much you need and when. If you dont have any medication get some before anything gets so bad from your health care team.

My best advice is to keep up with the constipation medication find what dose is suitable. I kept thinking I was OK and then I would stop Movicol so now I have decided to have at least one per day and see how I get on.

Eat certain foods to help with constipation

To be fair I do not eat a healthy diet I am more likely to reach for a wispa than a apple but I have tried adding foods to my diet to help with constipation

fruit and veg can help with constipation
Fruit and veg can help with constipation

Fruit and veg

it is a good idea to have lots of frit and veg in your diet anyway especially if you are having chemotherapy.

My oncology recommend fruit with a skin such as apples pears kiwifruit and bananas. I have also read that figs and citrus fruit can help with constipation as well as leafy vegetables such as spinach and sweet potato.

Prunes

As I was growing up whenever I felt constipated my mum said have some prunes. I tried eating them there wasn’t an immediate effect but after having them regularly I did see a bit of a difference. Try adding a few chopped prunes to your cereal or have them with yoghurt in the morning.

I was also told that dried cranberries had the same effect and during chemotherapy I would have plain yoghurt and dried cranberries for breakfast it wasn’t a magic potion but it was actually something I could eat in the morning when I didnt have much of an appetite.

Coffee

I used to laugh when my mum would have a coffee in the morning saying it helped her go to the toilet bit I have seen research that coffee does help with constipation.

Well I think it is more the caffine in coffee that helps as caffine is said to help stimulate muscles in digestive system to help yo go to the toilet.

Coffee is said to have a laxative effect I have as heard that dark chocolate has the same effect so there the kind of foods I want t eat t help with constipation.

Junk Food

I dont want to say eat junk food every day but I have to admit when I really need help going to the toilet I have had great success with a roast port chow mein from the local Chinese.

Macmillan Toilet Card

Get a Macmillan Toilet card. It is a green card that you can pop in your wallet or on a keyring.

I have used it many times and most of the time in cafes people dont question it when they see the Macmillan sign.

Also it has been great in the past at festivals as I get to use the disabled toilet without getting hassle.

Get Macmillan Toilet Card Here

Radar Key

When you dont look ill from treatment you can get some funny looks when you try and use the disabled toilet. People need to be aware that not all disabilities are visible.

If I need to go I need to go. I dont use it if I dont need to but get a Radar Key. These can be bought online or in Boots and are the key that you use to open most disabled toilets in the UK.

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2 Comments

  1. I love the eat junk food! So, true. Being I’m lactose intolerant (severe), I can eat a chunk of cheese. You know, being I love cheese and can’t have it, the cure is helpful. (I do not have cancer, just IBS that goes back and forth, and in the past, meds for IC that made constipation a problem.)

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