Opioid-Induced Constipation: 10 Ways to Make Yourself Go

OIC 11 ways

The pain has subsided and you’re starting to feel human again but now you’re looking at the bathroom longingly.  An unfortunate effect of pain management with opioids is opioid-induced constipation.  Opioids increase the amount of time it takes matter to move through the digestive tract.  In addition to that, they also partially paralyze the digestive tract further increasing how long it takes from “start” to “finish.”  Up to 90% of opioid users experience opioid-induced constipation.

Opiates are narcotics that treat chronic pain.  They attach to receptors in the nervous system and change the way the brain interprets pain.  Physicians generally prescribe opiates when common analgesics have failed to manage discomfort.  Opiates are especially effective because they are long acting and give the patient more reliable pain control.

Opioid induced constipation symptoms are:

  • Straining in the bathroom
  • Stomach distention or tenderness
  • Excessive bloating
  • Hard and dry stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Depression
  • Feeling sick
  • Flatulence
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn or acid reflux

If you can’t already tell, opioid-induced constipation is uncomfortable and often unavoidable.  While physicians can treat constipation with a number of medical routes, we do have several at-home remedies that we suggest you try:

  1. Mix powdered bulk-forming laxatives into juice.
  2. Load up on salads and fiber-rich foods such as oatmeal, whole grains and legumes.
  3. Drink water throughout the day.
  4. Schedule gym time.  Regular exercise helps regulate the digestive system.
  5. Add a stool softener to your daily vitamin regimen.
  6. Abdominal massage can stimulate the colon and speed things up.
  7. Eat yogurt!  Probiotics promote healthy “gut bacteria” and may assist digestion.
  8. Add supplemental magnesium (>500 mg per day) or red tea.
  9. With cold water, hydrotherapy can increase blood flow and motility in the stomach.  Spray your abdomen with cool water after your shower.
  10. Attempt bowel movements every day.

Let us know what you have found to help your constipation!

Learn more about opioid-induced constipation by reading Pain Relief with a Side of Opioid-Induced Constipation.

Opioid induced constipation

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