Children undergoing cancer treatments sometimes experience hard stools that cause them to pass less frequently than usual. This is quite common due to the intake of medications during chemotherapy such as vincristine. It is administered for alleviating pain and also causes constipation. The better choice is to prevent constipation conditions rather than looking to treat it some ways that can be implemented to prevent constipation are, 

  • Encouraging your child to drink water frequently. The more water intake the better.
  • Motivating them to do physical activity to stimulate the functions of the bowels, such as walking 
  • In case your child finds it difficult to intake high amounts of fluid, you can give them foods that are rich in water content 
  • Your child’s diet should be rich in foods that contain high fiber
  • Do not elevate it at once. Start the fiber intake process slowly, you can increase 5g per day
  • Taking medications that your child’s health care physician recommends can also help. 

Do not give any sort of enemas or suppositories without the consultation of their doctor. 

Rather you can do the following, 

  • Giving them a wide variety of fruits and veggies 
  • Including whole-grain bread, dried fruits such as raisins, and cereals
  • Encouraging your child to take high-fiber foods can also help and some of the foods that are rich in high fiber content are oatmeal cookies, fig bars, dates, or raisin bars. 
  • Request that your youngster drink a lot of liquids so they don’t dry out
  • Physical activity should be encouraged whenever possible

What is constipation?

This condition is because the stool is hard or challenging to pass and moves gradually through the intestinal system. A typical condition happens because of inappropriate utilization of food and it is likewise a secondary effect brought about by specific therapies for childhood illnesses, for example, cancer and different sorts of blood problems.

Constipation can be effectively managed by drinking more fluids, doing regular physical activity, and making appropriate changes in your dietary habits. If none of these seem to work, our child’s healthcare team will recommend medications to relieve the condition.

How can constipation be diagnosed?

The gut propensities for every youngster can be unique anyway it is obligatory that your kid ought to have defecations at least 3 times each week. Following are the side effects of constipation,

  • 2 or fewer bowel movements per week
  • Stool that is larger than normal or is in small pieces
  • Pain or straining to pass stool
  • Stomach cramps and pain
  • Gas, bloating, swollen belly
  • The feeling of having to go after a bowel movement
  • Nausea and vomiting

In order for the medical team to confirm that your child might have constipation, the medical team will have to take certain tests. The tests can incorporate the historical backdrop of the youngster’s wellbeing, lab tests, imaging tests, and unusual inclination in the abdomen.

What are the causes of constipation?

There are various factors as to why your child must be experiencing constipation. Some of the reasons are mentioned below,

  • Decrease in food intake
  • Physical inactivity
  • Low fiber diets
  • Ailments like hypothyroidism, diabetes, or celiac infection
  • Lack of hydration
  • Pressure on the stomach or intestines due to the tumor

Constipation due to the intake of medications:

Certain, medications can also cause constipation such as 

  • Anti-nausea medicines
  • Diuretics
  • Antidepressant medication
  • Iron supplements
  • Pain medicines like opioids and NSAIDs
  • Antacids
  • Allergy medicines including antihistamines
  • Chemotherapy medications such as vincristine and vinblastine
  • Medications such as codeine, methadone, morphine, fentanyl, and oxycodone 

Intake of opioid, medication can 

  • Cause a decrease of fluids in the intestines
  • The movement of the intestines is slowed down
  • Weakens the muscle tone and reduces reflexes that are responsible for stool movement.

If your child has been prescribed an opioid the healthcare team will recommend a laxative

Treatment for constipation:

Treatment for mild constipation usually involves changing your dietary habits and lifestyle such as drinking plenty of water, doing regular physical activities, and consuming food rich in fibers.

The following phase of treatment includes giving them prescriptions that empower solid discharge.

What are the medicines commonly administered for treating constipation?

The common types of medications that are provided for the purpose of relieving constipation are called laxatives. These are oral intake medications and should be taken as per the recommendation of your doctor. Sometimes an enema or suppositories may also be recommended. Do not provide any medications of your own accord, always talk to the healthcare specialist regarding the appropriate medicine to be used as many laxatives are available to be bought without a prescription.

Changes in the diet:

The amount of calorie intake that a patient takes while undergoing cancer treatment does not fulfill their requirements due to them constantly experiencing nausea, vomiting, excessive fatigue, and loss of appetite. So the best way to treat constipation is to make some changes to their diet.

  • Eat customary dinners.
  • Utilizations of fiber-rich food varieties incorporate natural products, vegetables, entire grains, beans, and nuts.  Fiber-rich foods play a significant role in combating constipation. 
  • Have a warm refreshment or warm oats for breakfast.
  • Drink a lot of liquids.

What are the complications of constipation:

Fecal Impaction of the Colon

One of the effects of constipation is that it leads to fecal impaction. This happens when the stool hardens, becomes dry mass, and gets stuck, unable to be eliminated from the body. It can be treated by using enemas or by manual stool removal methods.


Ileus happens when the digestive tracts become impeded because of an absence of typical digestive tract development. It can be treated by administering IV fluids, regular fluids, staying away from medications that cause constipation, and by a process called gastrointestinal compression where the pressure in the stomach is relieved. 

Care for Rectal and Anal Pain

Cuts, breaks or tears in the intestine can sometimes cause severe infection. If your child has any skincare problems it is wise to let the medical team know. Make sure your child follows the following practices,

  • Should not spend too much time in the toilet by straining
  • Regular warm baths
  • Assuming that any cream is suggested by your kid’s medical services group, apply them tenderly to the area
  • Utilize damp tissue or unscented restroom wipers and wipe the region delicately yet completely.

In case of any queries or clarifications talk to your doctor. 

Key points

  • Constipation is a seriously normal event and it is one of the secondary effects experienced by kids going through disease medicines.
  • If the parents or the guardian of the child have any concerns regarding their child’s difficulties, they can always approach the medical team
  • Parents can help their children by encouraging them to take rich foods and following the treatment plans correctly
  • Do not dismiss the condition as trivial. 
  • Not giving treatment to constipation at the right time can create some issues like waste impaction.

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