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Symptoms of constipation

Constipation is a common problem for people with cancer and during cancer treatment. Find out about the symptoms.

Constipation means having difficulty opening your bowels. Knowing what is normal for you will help you decide if you have constipation or not. 

How constipation affects you

If you are constipated, you won’t have regular bowel movements (poo, stools or faeces). You might go days without one.

The early symptoms of constipation can include:

  • difficulty and pain when having a bowel movement
  • fewer than 3 bowel movements a week
  • having to strain a lot when trying to open your bowels
  • hard poo (stools or faeces) that looks like small hard pellets
  • feeling bloated and sluggish

Severe constipation

Severe constipation can cause more serious symptoms such as:

  • a swollen, hard tummy (abdomen)
  • very liquid diarrhoea that you can’t control at all (overflow diarrhoea)
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling and being sick
  • headaches

What to do if you have constipation

Make sure that you get treatment for constipation. It will make it much easier to sort the problem out. Leaving constipation for too long can lead to more serious problems such as a bowel blockage (obstruction).

Let your doctor or nurse know straight away if you have not had a bowel movement for more than 3 days. There are medicines to help with constipation.

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.