- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
How to Prevent and Treat Opioid Constipation Without Taking More Prescription Pills
Pain Pills #1 Side Effect
What is the number one most common side effect of taking opiate pain medications? Constipation. Recently I saw a commercial on the Television for pills that one could take in order to counteract the side effect of constipation from taking opioid pain pills. This made me realize how mainstream and acceptable it is to take pain pills on a daily basis as a form of pain management. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical companies would also have you believe it's easiest to manage the constipation from pain pills by simply taking another pill. And unfortunately, if you are already dependent on pain pills you might not want to be dependent on another. You might also not be able to afford another pill on a daily basis. So here are some ways to help you prevent and treat constipation as a side effect of opioids without having to take more pills.
How to Prevent Opioid Constipation
The obvious most easiest answer to prevent opioid constipation is to stop taking opioids to control your pain. I realize most people will say they can't stop taking them, that they need them in order to live a normal life. And in many cases, that may be true. But in some cases, you can stop. You just have to put your mind to it and wean off of them slowly. Keeping in mind that withdrawal can and will happen. But if you want to have normal bowel movements, not have to deal with bowel blockage, etc. you can easily prevent this by not taking opioids.
I've seen too many people end up in the hospital because they are so constipated they haven't pooped in a week. They take opioids every day, sometimes more than three or four different kinds and they wonder why they can't have a normal bowel pattern. Don't end up in the hospital. Do what's best for your overall bodily health and find a way to treat your pain without using addictive and destructive medications such as opioids. Trust me, I've personally known more than one person who was on a neverending cycle of pain meds who decided to wean off of them then ended up happy and healthy without them. Even saying, "I never needed them in the first place. The doctors convinced me I needed them, and I started believing it. But now that I'm off of them, I'm just fine!" You have to remember, the medical world is a business. They are in it to make money. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies both.
Now, if you're saying, I have a debilitating disease, this lady is crazy for telling me to get off the opioids. Then proceed to the next section and you can learn how to treat your constipation naturally while taking opioids.
Treating Opioid Constipation Naturally
If you can't stop taking opioids to control your pain and you're already dealing with the side effect of constipation, here are some ways you can treat your constipation naturally. And prevent it from happening again without having to add another pill to your regimen.
You might have heard this preached before, but there's no time to revisit it like the present. Your diet plays a key role in your digestive health. For obvious reasons. If you're eating only junk (carbs and fats) and no fiber, you're more likely to have constipation issues while taking opioid pills. If you're eating fiber such as vegetables and fruits, you're less likely to get constipated. You should also be drinking half your weight in ounces of water each day. So for example, if you weight two hundred pounds, you should be drinking one hundred ounces of water every day. Water keeps the digested materials in your stomach and gut moving forward. It keeps it softened and more motile.
Diet to Prevent and Treat Constipation: lots of water, prunes, oranges, apples, pears, celery, carrots, spinach, greens, seeds - sunflower, flax, pumpkin, corn, wheats, other veggies and fruits.
Another key factor in keeping your bowels moving properly is to keep your entire body moving. Yes, you're in pain and yes it hurts worse when you move, but if you keep yourself in action your bowels will stay in action. Exercise aids in peristalsis (movement of the bowels - propels feces forward). Even if you can't run a marathon or lift weights, stay active. Take a short walk around the neighborhood, get off your butt and sweep your garage or porch, play with your pets. Do something that gets you moving. This aids in keeping your bowels moving. The more you lay or sit around, the more your bowels slow down. Some yoga exercises can help get things moving too.
Exercise to prevent/treat opioid constipation: walking several times a day, swimming, daily chores, yoga, stay active!
Herbal Supplements for Opioid Constipation
It may seem like quackery to take herbs in order to prevent or treat constipation caused by opioid intake; however, if you're trying to avoid putting any more processed pharmaceuticals into your body this might be the answer to help you.
Instead of taking another pill prescribed by the doctor, do your research and consider taking herbal supplements instead. The earth has more than what we need in regards to medicine, and we don't have to process it in order to reap the benefits.
Warning: I am not a doctor and you should always consult your physician or local certified herbalist before starting an herbal regimen. Some herbs can interact negatively with medications or medical disorders.
Here are some of the herbs that can be used to prevent and treat constipation: slippery elm, sorrel, dandelion, aloe vera, fenugreek, sea buckthorn, senna. These can be found in different forms too including: capsule, tablet, herbal tea, tincture, and more.
Herbs have been used for thousands of years to keep us healthy. They've also been known to heal. Give it a try. And while you're at it, consider taking herbal supplements for pain and give up the pharmaceuticals that are damaging your body once and for all.
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© 2015 Nicole Canfield