Constipation (when you find it hard to poo) can be a side effect of some treatments. For example, opioid painkillers like morphine can cause constipation. Not moving around much, not eating much, and dehydration, may also make constipation more likely. Constipation can be very uncomfortable, and can cause bloating and sickness.
Laxatives are medicines used to treat and prevent constipation. If you are taking opioid painkillers, you should be given laxatives to prevent this.
Some people get a symptom called steatorrhoea, which is pale poo that floats and smells horrible. This happens if the body can’t digest the fat in food properly. Taking pancreatic enzymes can help with steatorrhoea.
Diarrhoea (runny poo) can be caused by problems digesting food, an infection or some types of chemotherapy. If the diarrhoea is caused by problems digesting food, taking pancreatic enzymes can help. Find tips for managing diarrhoea.
Some people have ongoing diarrhoea that isn’t helped by enzymes. If you have diarrhoea that isn’t getting better, you may have bile acid diarrhoea – which can happen if there is too much bile in the intestine. Or you may have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which is caused by having too much bacteria in the intestines.
Speak to the doctor, nurse or GP if your diarrhoea isn’t getting better. You may need to see a gastroenterology team, who are experts in problems with the stomach and intestines. There are tests that can be done to check for bile acid diarrhoea and SIBO, and medicines to treat them.