Defined as fewer than three bowel movements a week (although fewer than four or five may be a reduced number for some people), this symptom can be caused by:

• Certain chemotherapy drugs, including vinorelbine (Navelbine and others), vincristine and temozolomide (Temodar and others)
• Inactivity
• Low fluid intake
• Low amounts of fiber in the diet
• Anti-nausea medications
• Opiate pain medications

In cases of severe constipation, liquid can seep around a blockage, which some people mistake for diarrhea. They may take an anti-diarrheal medication, making the problem worse. With prolonged constipation, other symptoms, such as confusion and retaining urine, can occur.

Avoiding Constipation

Here are some things you can do to help prevent constipation:

• Eat plenty of dietary fiber. Grains, beans and vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli are good sources of fiber.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
• Make exercise a part of your everyday schedule.