If you have constipation

Constipation means that you’re not able to open your bowels routinely and it can become difficult or painful for you to pass bowel motions. Here are some suggestions to help prevent or ease this:

  • Make sure you have plenty of fibre (roughage) in your diet. Good sources of fibre include: wholewheat breakfast cereals like Weetabix®, Shredded Wheat® or muesli; wholemeal bread and flour; brown rice; wholemeal pasta; and fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of fluids – both hot and cold drinks will help. Aim to drink at least two litres (3.5 pints) a day. This is particularly important if you increase the amount of fibre in your diet, as fibre without adequate fluids can make constipation worse.
  • Popular natural remedies for constipation are prune juice, prunes and syrup of figs.
  • Gentle exercise, such as walking, will help keep your bowels moving.
  • If the constipation is due to medicines that you’re taking (such as painkillers or anti-sickness drugs), you may need to take laxatives. Your doctor can prescribe these for you.

If you have cancer of the bowel, or you think that your bowel may be affected by your cancer treatment, always ask your doctor or specialist nurse for advice on dealing with constipation. A diet with lots of fibre in it may make your symptoms worse.