Opioids are known to trigger constipation. When an individual is prescribed oxycodone, morphine, hydrocodone, or codeine, they may have opioid-induced constipation. This occurs because opioids attach themselves to receptors throughout the nervous system to block pain.
The bowels also have these receptors. Up to 80% of individuals who take opioids for chronic pain may experience constipation, meaning they have three or fewer bowel movements a week. As the opioids attach themselves to the receptors in the intestines and bowel, stools take longer to pass through the G.I. system. The good news is that there are various remedies, both natural and with medication, that can be used to provide relief for opioid-induced constipation.
Medications That Can Relieve Opioid-Induced Constipation
Over-the-counter options have been shown to help individuals with constipation due to opioids. Osmotics, stimulants, and stool softeners may provide some relief. For example, stool softeners increase the amount of water in the colon, which means stools will pass more easily. Suppositories or enemas can stimulate bowel activity and soften stools.
However, these must be used carefully to prevent damage to the rectum. Mineral oil may help stools move through the colon more easily since it is a lubricant laxative. You can speak to your doctor about prescription medications that can help with opioid-induced constipation as well. Some medications can help stools pass more easily through the G.I. system because they block the effects of opioids in the gut. However, you should be aware of any possible side effects of using them.
Natural Remedies to Provide Relief for Opioid-Induced Constipation
You may feel that going the natural route would be better for your situation. Various herbs and supplements can stimulate bowel activity.
Give Fiber Supplements a Try
Fiber supplements can offer a laxative effect. They increase the amount of water in the colon, which means stools will pass easier because they will be bulkier. When using fiber supplements for constipation, you must drink enough fluids. If not, dehydration can occur, making the situation with constipation worse. Speak with your doctor before trying any natural remedy for opioid-induced constipation. This is necessary because certain supplements can affect medications you may be taking. For example, the absorption of aspirin will decrease when taking fiber supplements.
Using Aloe Vera Could Be Beneficial
The laxative effect of aloe vera may help individuals with opioid-induced constipation. Studies performed on rats have shown that aloe vera can improve the fecal volume and intestinal motility. However, you must consult with your doctor before trying this option. It can affect certain medications, like hormonal drugs, anti-inflammatories, and drugs that lower cholesterol.
Senna Provides a Laxative Effect
Senna leaves can be purchased at health food stores. Once you purchase them, you can brew them in hot water to make tea. It is also possible to buy Senna in tablets and capsules. It offers a laxative effect that may assist with opioid-induced constipation. Again, you must speak with your doctor about using this natural remedy. If it is used over a long period, it can trigger an electrolyte imbalance or cause diarrhea.
Other Options for Opioid-Induced Constipation
Improving your lifestyle can help you get relief from opioid-induced constipation. It can help you manage discomfort. Get plenty of exercise. Being physically active stimulates bowel activity. Walking 30 minutes a day most days of the week can be beneficial. Increase the amount of fiber you consume. Adding whole grains, vegetables, and fruits to your diet can normalize bowel activity.
Great sources of fiber include asparagus, apricots, prunes, raisins, and beans. However, you must start slowly. Eating too much fiber can lead to abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Avoid foods that trigger constipation. Many deal with constipation when eating processed or fatty foods. Avoid all things that are difficult to digest and will worsen opioid-induced constipation. Give ice and heat therapy a try. Since constipation can cause abdominal pain and bloating, using warm and cold compresses on the pelvic area may reduce abdominal pain.
Relief Is Possible
Various options are available to help those who are dealing with opioid-induced constipation. Home remedies, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and lifestyle changes may provide the results you are looking for. If you would like to learn more about these and other options, contact us today at 833-610-1174.