Pain medications containing narcotics usually affect the digestive system. But there are ways of dealing with the side effects, and they shouldn't prevent you from using a drug which successfully relieves pain. Constipation is a common problem. Stool softeners, laxatives, or enemas may be needed daily for as long as you receive the narcotic. Bulk laxatives (such as MetamucilÃ‚®) are one type to avoid when taking narcotics; they may cause severe constipation rather than relieve it. Treating constipation should be done with care, so you will not have more serious complications, such as stool impactions (a severe form of constipation).
Another common side effect of pain medication is nausea. This too can be eased by anti-nausea medications, such as DramamineÃ‚®, CompazineÃ‚®, TiganÃ‚®, and others. If you are having any unpleasant side effects from your medication, be sure to tell your doctor. But, never stop taking your medication without first checking with your doctor.
Read Pain Medication at Home-Top Do's and Dont's
Editor's Note: Adapted from A Comprehensive Guide for Cancer Patients and Their Families. Bull Publishing Company: Palo Alto, CA, 1980. Selection authored by Lizabeth Light, BSN.