Is there anything I can take to relieve constipation due to pain medication?

Babbs58 asked...

My pain medications are constipating me. I am taking Senna and Colace. Is there anything else I can take to relieve constipation from medication?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

First, make sure you're drinking enough fluids. Most clinicians recommend 6 to 8 cups of fluid daily. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages such as cola don't count. They are actually dehydrating. If fluids aren't an issue and you're drinking enough, I would next look at your diet. Are you eating enough fiber? Prunes can be helpful. Also, other fruits such as apples or pears. High fiber cereals or fiber juices such as prune or cherry juice can also be helpful. Lastly, I'd also look at your activity level. Many people become constipated because they sit around all day. Walks and other exercise can definitely help reduce constipation.

It sounds like you suspect your medications are causing the constipation. Talk to your doctor or a pharmacist about this. Maybe dosages or types of medication can be adjusted. Ask if laxatives are a good idea. Your doctor may have ideas on brands. There are two kinds of products commonly used, stool softeners and laxatives. Stool softeners aren't as strong as laxatives, so many people start with a softener to see if it will help. Laxatives are associated with diarrhea and loose bowels. If this happens, talk to your doctor or an advice nurse.