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SIDE EFFECTS AND SYMPTOM MANAGEMENT /// CHAPTER 33
Constipation
At this point in your treatment, you've had a lot of people ask you about your bathroom
habits. We promise, it's not some weird interest of nurses and doctors, there are some
important reasons why we ask.
What is Constipation?
Constipation is when you have too little poop,
coming not often enough. Poop is often very
hard, more like pebbles than toothpaste.
Why do I get constipated?
Constipation can happen because there isn't
enough movement in your gut, or more fluid
than usual is absorbed by your body making
the poop hard.
This change can be caused by:
» Pain medications
» Anti-nausea medications
» Chemotherapy - especially Vincristine.
» Surgery
» Lack of physical activity
» Diets without a lot of fruit, vegetables, and
fiber in them
» Not drinking enough liquids
Why does everyone care if I'm constipated?
» Constipation is uncomfortable! It can make
you feel bloated and gassy, and it can even
make you feel nauseated or cause you to
throw up.
» Constipation can also cause tears around
your bottom that occur when you strain
to poop. These tears are painful, they can
get infected and lead to extra time in the
hospital.
» Since constipation means there is poop
sitting around in your gut, it can sometimes
cause other infections that may lead you to
spend more time in the hospital.
What can I do to keep
myself regular?
» First things first: know
what your regular is.
Some people go every
day, others go every other
day. You should tell your
doctor if you have not
had a bowel movement in
three days.
» Drink more fluids.
» Eat high-fiber foods like
whole-grain breads, fruits
and vegetables.
» Avoid foods that make
you constipated. Some
people get constipated
when they eat a lot of
cheese or eggs.
» Keep moving! Even a walk
around the house counts!
» Go to the bathroom
when you have the urge.
Holding it in can make the
problem worse.
» Take gentle laxatives like
Docusate, Senna and
Miralax as ordered by your
doctor (also available over
the counter). They will
often be prescribed " as
needed. " This means that
you should take them as
often as you need to stay
regular.
When should I call the Doctor?
» If you have not pooped in
three days
» If you see blood in your poop,
in the toilet, or when you wipe
» If you have pain when you try
to poop
» If you feel crampy or have
vomiting that doesn't stop
» If you have a fever
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What Do I Do Now?

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