Did you know that one of the reasons for constipation is usage of pain killers? Pain killers may be used for subsiding the pain in many cases and for that variety of pain killers are used. Usually pain killers are provided or prescribed for people who are suffering from moderate to severe pain in their body.
There are many adverse side effects of pain killers and one of them is constipation. Other side effects can include blurred vision, impaired thinking, Ureteral Spasm, Respiratory problems which can flare Asthma, dryness of skin and rashes etc.
The pain killers which we are at present talking about are narcotic pain reliever. These pain reliever are similar to action of morphine and include Oxycontin, Vicodin and Morphine.
How Pain Killers Cause Constipation
Painkillers work in several ways in causing constipation. Most of these painkillers have effect on the central nervous system and subside the pain signals reaching the brain which indicate the pain to us. As you may be knowing already all the sensations are felt when the nerves carry the signal to the brain and brains interprets the signal we then fee that signal. For example if someone tickles you brain would receive those signals first carried by the nerves and then you would start laughing. Of course this happens very fast in milliseconds and you would not be able to feel the time difference it took for the signal to reach the brain.
When the pain killer acts on the central nervous system it tries to sort of disable the pain feeling mechanism. At the same time there are certain undesirable side effects since Central Nervous System is responsible for many roles in the body and not only for signals carrying pain causing signals. This Central Nervous System consists of both the brain and the spinal cords. There are several nerves which originate from this system and reaches out to various organs and systems like digestive system. When this nervous system slows down the working of stomach and the intestines also slow down.
Since food passes through the intestines in the process of digestion, absorption and elimination the slowdown of the food in the passage will soak water from this food and when this stays in the intestinal tract for several hours due to the slowdown it gradually starts to become harder. Hard stool are the reason for constipation and the intestines find them harder to push through. This is how pain killers cause constipation.
How to Avoid Constipation While Taking Pain Killers
There are many physical conditions where in we cannot avoid taking pain killers since we are not able to tolerate the pain levels. In those cases it become almost compulsory for the patient to take the pain killers as doctors may not have much option to provide relief to the patient. Therefore you may not have much option but to wait for the pain to subside so that you can stop taking the pain killers.
But what you can do is take mild laxatives and stool softener. For mild laxative we would recommend Tiphala and also go for some good stool softener. Combination of these two should be able to provide some relief. Triphala will slowly rejuvenate the body and also activate the Liver and stomach so that digestion is smoother.
Stool softener will make the food retain the moisture so that it does not become hard. When the stool is soft intestines will be able to push it out slowly and you will be less likely to suffer from constipation for the reason of stool being hard.
It would be advisable that you take reduced dosage or avoid pain killers in case you have pain within tolerance level since pain killers do not heal and only provide pain relief.
I have seen one of my friend after one minor knee operation was not able to move. Of course he had to take pain killers but it also affected his digestion and elimination system. He reduced the pain killer dosage to half just to see how he felt. He observed that he felt marginal pain but it was not totally intolerable but his digestion improved within a day and he was also not facing the problem of constipation.
You can also try to carefully reduce the pain killer dosage a little and see if you can still tolerate the pain. If you can then it would be better of to stick to the reduced dosage so that you can avoid the side effects of taking the pain killers.
Just for you information painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin have been seen to be found in the milk of nursing mothers. This means that it can cause problems to the babies whom they are nursing. Pregnancy is one of the causes of constipation in women, but the fact is whatever mother take does not affect only them but also their baby. Many people with Asthma also see flare up after taking these pain killers. It would be great to talk to your doctor or health care professional so that you can balance the pain management and the potential side effects so that you are able to take an informed decision.