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Constipated. On medication. Started drinking more water. Mucus appeared in stool. Chances of colon cancer?

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Hi. Can't get into a doctor for a few weeks. I have been constipated for awhile now. I just assumed it was due to the medication I am on (tramadol 3 times a day for pain from back surgery). I have been on this for 3 years now. I began to drink more water and increased fiber. Now I go regularly everyday, but it is still hard and looks like gumballs. I noticed over the last few weeks what appears to be mucus in the stool. Sometimes it is a little, but it was quite a bit today. I am freaking out because my sister in law is 43 and just got diagnosed with colon cancer. I just turned 40.
Posted Sun, 12 Aug 2012 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Divya Kuttikrishnan 2 hours later
Hello there,

Thanks for writing in.

Back surgeries, Tramadol etc can all cause constipation. If you have additional symptoms of greenish stools, with blood and mucus, it could be some gastro intestinal infection . I would suggest you get a stool routine examination done, which might give us a clue, in case it is an infection(bacteria/parasites).

Don't be anxious about colon cancer. If you have severe weight loss,decrease appetite, blood in stools(red/black), constipation etc, then we might need to rule out colon cancer. I agree that you have constipation, but that could be due to the back surgery /tramadol. And I'm assuming there is no family history of colon cancer . Sister-in-law would mean either your brother's wife or your husband's sister, which means that you are not related by blood.

However, if you are still anxious about colon cancer, I would suggest that you talk about your fears when you XXXXXXX your doctor, and if necessary he/she might advise colonoscopy to rule out the same.

To avoid/reduce constipation you could try the following measures:

1. Have fibre XXXXXXX food like oats as a porridge.

2. Have plenty of fresh fruits (like banana, papaya) and vegetables.

3. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

4. Soak a handful of raisins in a glass of clean drinking water and keep it overnight. Drink the raisin soaked water and eat the raisins first thing in the morning.

5. Avoid white rice, pasta and maida. Have whole grain foods like brown rice , chappathis etc.

6. As an alternative to point no.4, Try drinking 3 glasses of water on an empty stomach as soon as you wake up. I know this is not possible on the first go, so start gradually. Start by drinking one glass of water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning for two - three days. Then gradually increase it to 2 glasses in the morning and thereafter 3 glasses. Within 15-30 minutes, you will have the urge to pass motion and most likely you will have a good bowel movement.

7.Avoid XXXXXXX fried, fatty food , chocolates, tea, coffee, alcohol, smoking, fast food and junk food.

8.If you do need to have a laxative, you can have Isabgol :Mix 2 teaspoons of isabgol (psyllium husk) in a glass of clean drinking water and drink immediately at night.

I would also advise you to wean off from tramadol . Alernatively, you might want to try acupressure for relief from chronic pain

Hope I have answered your question. Let me know if you need further clarifications.

In case you dont have any further queries,kindly accept my answer.Any reviews are welcome.

Have a great day.

Dr Divya Kuttikrishnan
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