Constipation assessment

Assessment and treatment of existing constipation.

1. Identify the cause of constipation.

Constipation should be anticipated in all patients:

  • Taking opioids (Opioid Induced Constipation) or anticholinergics (e.g. tricyclic antidepressants, cyclizine, etc.).
  • Those who are either inactive or have a reduced fluid or dietary fibre intake.
  • Lack of privacy and pain may be contributing factors.
  • At risk of hypercalcaemia which could be treated.
  • Bowel obstruction should be considered and if clinically suspected further advice sought.

2. Management should then be guided by clinical assessment.


This Guide is intended for use by healthcare professionals and the expectation is that they will use clinical judgement, medical, and nursing knowledge in applying the general principles and recommendations contained within. They are not meant to replace the many available texts on the subject of palliative care.

Some of the management strategies describe the use of drugs outside their licensed indications. They are, however, established and accepted good practice. Please refer to the current BNF for further guidance.

While WMPCPS takes every care to compile accurate information , we cannot guarantee its correctness and completeness and it is subject to change. We do not accept responsibility for any loss, damage or expense resulting from the use of this information.