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Does Zofran Cause Constipation? Everything You Need to Know
Gut Health

Does Zofran Cause Constipation? Everything You Need to Know

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 20
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5 min

Zofran is used to treat nausea and vomiting brought on by chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, but it may also cause constipation. We’ve taken a look at this medication, how it causes constipation, and how to relieve it. Take a look now.

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Zofran, an anti-nausea medication, has been known to cause some adverse reactions in users. Some side effects Zofran can cause include headaches, drowsiness, and constipation. While severe constipation is rare, it has been known to occur in some cases.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at what this prescription drug is, how it causes constipation, and how you can relieve constipation caused by Zofran. Take a look to learn more.

Does Zofran Cause Constipation?

Yes, Zofran has been known to cause constipation in some of its users, along with other side effects. In clinical trials assessing the efficacy of Zofran, 9% of participants experienced constipation while using Zofran.

There is some concern that constipation caused by Zofran may mask a bowel obstruction in patients who have recently had abdominal surgery. For these patients, extra monitoring is used to ensure no signs are missed.

Constipation is common in adults and is a very common side effect of many prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Everything from Tylenol to calcium supplements may cause constipation, and it is generally easily resolved.

However, if the constipation you experience caused by Zofran is debilitating, stops you from being able to carry out normal tasks, or presents alongside other symptoms, like extreme fatigue, then you should seek immediate medical attention.

What Is Zofran?

Zofran is an anti-nausea medication usually prescribed to patients undergoing chemotherapy and other cancer treatments to treat nausea and vomiting. The drugs work by inhibiting the receptors that cause the vomiting reflex, helping manage these symptoms.

Zofran is classed as a serotonin receptor antagonist, and it blocks the action of serotonin. It benefits people undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and other cancer therapies, but like all drugs, it has some side effects. Generally, these side effects are considered outweighed by the drug’s benefits in reducing nausea and vomiting.

Side Effects of Zofran

Zofran can have some side effects. Common side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness

Rarer side effects of Zofran include:

  • Heart problems – There have been some cases of the medication causing slow or abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Masking of bowel obstruction – Other symptoms of bowel obstruction include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, swelling in the stomach, and inability to pass gas.
  • Serotonin syndrome – Though rare, Zofran can induce what is known as serotonin syndrome in users. It is more likely if the Zofran is combined with other medications, like SSRIs, and can occur as a side effect of a Zofran overdose too. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include confusion, agitation, muscle twitching, shivering, sweating, and diarrhea.

In some cases, Zofran can cause severe allergic reactions. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives, swelling in lips, itchy, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, wheezing, rapid heart rate, chest pain, and loss of consciousness. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must seek emergency medical attention.

Why Does Zofran Cause Constipation?

Zofran blocks the action of serotonin. Serotonin plays a major role in the gut and impacts how fast food moves through the intestines and how sensitive your intestines are to fullness. The serotonin action in the intestines is blocked, slowing the speed at which food moves through your bowels and causing fewer bowel movements.

Your intestines are the passage through which food must move before it can be excreted in the form of a bowel movement. If the food is no longer being moved along the intestines, there are fewer bowel movements. Constipation is caused by slow-moving food in the gut.

Constipation occurred in 9% of participants in the aforementioned clinical trial, making it a common side effect. Many medications, including Ibuprofen and antibiotics, can cause constipation. However, their benefits usually outweigh the discomfort of constipation, and home remedies can be done to relieve constipation.

How Long Does Zofran Constipation Last?

It is thought that constipation caused by Zofran only lasts as long as the medication is being taken. The half-life of Zofran is about 3–4 hours in healthy adults (and about 6–8 in older adults), meaning that the entire dose of Zofran should be gone from your body in 15–20 hours.

If you are taking Zofran regularly and it is consistently causing constipation, or other adverse reactions, it is important you speak with your healthcare provider to get professional medical advice on how to solve these issues. They may suggest different dosages or different medications.

How to Relieve Constipation From Zofran

There are many at-home remedies you can use to relieve constipation caused by Zofran. These include drinking more water and getting more fiber in your diet through your food intake or a fiber supplement.

Drinking more water can help relieve constipation at home. Not getting enough hydration each day can impact your bowel movements. It is recommended that you drink at least 60oz of clear liquids each day to maintain optimal health.

Eating foods that are high in fiber, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can improve constipation. Fiber is an important nutrient in the body and comes in two forms – soluble and insoluble fiber. These two kinds of fiber work together to ensure you have regular, soft, and bulky bowel movements and reduce your risk of constipation.

Additionally, you should avoid refined, processed, and fatty foods. These foods have little in the way of nutrition and can make constipation more likely.

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If you are concerned about your fiber intake, you could also take a fiber supplement, like ColonBroom. This is a psyllium husk-based fiber supplement that works within 24–72 hours and can reduce bloating and constipation.

It requires just one scoop of water and has a great strawberry taste. It is also an effective gut cleanser, can reduce hunger cravings, and may even boost energy and promote better sleep. It is designed to support better digestive health.

While there are many tried and tested home remedies for constipation, it is essential you seek advice from your healthcare provider if your symptoms do not go away.

A Word From Our MD

Constipation is a common side effect of the serotonergic drugs used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. They work by inhibiting serotonin receptors that cause these symptoms but also affect the receptors in the gut. This slows the movement of food through the bowels and leads to constipation.

The side effects of cancer chemotherapy can be debilitating, and, as such, the side effects of Zofran are generally outweighed by the benefits of the drug. This means that constipation may have to be endured when taking Zofran.

There are many ways to relieve constipation caused by medications, including eating high-fiber foods, drinking more water, getting more exercise, and taking a fiber supplement. However, if your symptoms are debilitating or do not go away once you stop taking Zofran, you should speak with your doctor to work out possible solutions.

Zofran comes with a few other side effects, including headaches, fatigue, and drowsiness. In some very rare cases, Zofran use can result in an allergic reaction.

If you experience any symptoms of an allergy or anaphylaxis, like breathing difficulties, chest pain, tightness, or loss of consciousness, you must seek emergency medical attention.

Constipation can be uncomfortable, but there are many ways to treat it. Speak with your doctor to find out more.

Conclusion

Zofran is used to reduce the side effects of many cancer treatments, but it may cause constipation in some users. Constipation is common but is rarely life-threatening. We’ve listed a few remedies for you to try, including trying out a fiber supplement like ColonBroom, before speaking with your doctor.

If constipation lasts a long time or is debilitating, seek medical attention immediately.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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