Palliative Care – Dealing with constipation

Palliative Care – Dealing with constipation

Dealing with constipation


Constipation can be a troubling and at times incredibly painful experience. It can cause you distress and anxiety and can negatively impact your quality of life. One of the most frequent causes of constipation is the pain medication you are taking as well as the secondary effects of the disease itself.

There are several things you can do to manage constipation. The best is to try and prevent it from happening. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If you are feeling nauseous and/or vomiting, rather take frequent small sips throughout the day. Make sure your diet contains plenty of fibre. Try and include fruits such as prunes, pears and apples.

Try and stay as active as possible. Being in bed all day can lead to or worsen constipation. If you are in too much pain or feeling breathless, and this is keeping you from moving around, discuss it your doctor so that you can get treatment. A physiotherapist can assist you in getting more mobile too.

Maintain good bowel habits. If you are having difficulty getting to the bathroom due to pain or weakness, consider getting a commode. You can also chat to an occupational therapist about how to adapt your environment so that it is more suited to your needs.

Your doctor should do a full assessment to figure out what is causing you to be constipated. If medication is prescribed you will need something to keep your stools soft e.g. Dulcolax and something to help keep things moving through your gut e.g. senakot. Rather than taking them only when needed take them every day and night as prescribed. This will help keep things moving.