OxyContin and Constipation

It is possible to develop constipation while taking OxyContin (oxycodone ER). This side effect is so predictable that many healthcare providers recommend that people who take OxyContin also take a laxative before any problems occur. If you are taking this medication and constipation occurs, you can try using stool softeners or stimulant laxatives.

OxyContin and Constipation: An Overview

OxyContin® (oxycodone ER) is a prescription medication approved to treat moderate to severe pain. As with most narcotics, OxyContin is likely to cause constipation. In fact, constipation is one of the most common OxyContin side effects.
Most people who take narcotic pain relievers (such as OxyContin) will develop some degree of constipation. If left untreated, constipation due to OxyContin can become very painful or, in some situations, could even lead to a dangerous intestinal blockage.

Will It Go Away?

Many side effects of OxyContin (such as nausea or drowsiness) typically improve as the body adjusts to the medication. However, the body never adjusts or adapts to constipation due to OxyContin. Therefore, constipation due to OxyContin will not go away on its own, as long as you continue to take the medication.
Someone who has been taking OxyContin for years is just as likely to have constipation due to the drug as someone who just started taking it. Therefore, measures to treat and prevent constipation due to OxyContin are usually necessary.

Constipation Treatment and Prevention

Some of the usual non-drug treatments for constipation (such as exercise and increased fiber and water intake) may help a little. However, a laxative is usually necessary to prevent and treat constipation due to OxyContin.
The use of laxatives to prevent and treat constipation due to OxyContin is extremely important in some situations, such as after a heart attack or after delivering a baby. In these situations, constipation can be extremely painful (after having a baby) and even life-threatening (after having a heart attack -- when straining should be avoided).
Although stool softeners, such as docusate (Colace® and others), may provide some relief, stimulant laxatives are often necessary. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist to recommend a laxative that is best for your situation (don't forget to mention that you are taking OxyContin). Many people find that a combination stool softener plus stimulant laxative (such as Peri-Colace®) works well for constipation due to narcotics.
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