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 know whether 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 not have one for a few days or more.
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 can cause more serious symptoms such as:
- a swollen, hard tummy (with or without pain)
- very liquid diarrhoea that you can’t control at all (overflow diarrhoea)
- loss of appetite
- feeling and being sick
- confusion and feeling restless
- being unable to pass urine (urinary retention)
What to do if you have constipation
Make sure that you get early 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).