Medications Constipation

constipation treatments

There are many medications that can help with constipation. These include both over-the-counter options and prescription medications.

With over-the-counter medications, your doctor will be able to help choose the right one for you. Over-the-counter options include:

  • fiber supplements
  • osmotics
  • stimulants
  • stool softeners
  • suppositories
  • enemas

Fiber supplements help to add bulk to your stool to get your stools moving. These must be taken with lots of water/fluids to ensure you don’t instead get blocked up. Fiber supplements may cause bloating or belly pain in some people.

Osmotics help your stool maintain fluid, making it softer. These need to be taken with care; you should speak to your doctor and be sure to follow all instructions properly.

Stimulants are for severe constipation. They cause intestinal contractions to get the stool moving. Overuse of stimulants is dangerous and can cause problems such as low potassium levels.

Stool softeners are best when straining needs to be avoided (such as after surgery or giving birth). They should only be used short-term. Stool softeners pull water from the intestines into the stool, making it easier for the stool to move through the colon.

Suppositories are placed inside your rectum and cause intestinal contractions to force a bowel movement. Some suppositories also soften the stool.

Enemas push fluid directly into the rectum. This softens the stool, making it move more easily.

If over-the-counter medications aren’t working for you, you could talk to your doctor about seeing if one of the prescription options work for you. Prescription medications include:

  • colchicine
  • linaclotide
  • lactulose
  • lubiprostone
  • misoprostol
  • plecanatide

Colchicine may be able to help with chronic constipation by causing you to have more bowel movements. However, it should not be taken if you have renal insufficiency.

Linaclotide treats both chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). It also helps to make you have more frequent bowel movements. A common side effect is diarrhea.

Lactulose draws water into the bowel to help soften stool and loosen it up, bringing on a bowel movement. Side effects include diarrhea, gas, stomach cramps, and an upset stomach.

Lubiprostone helps with chronic constipation, IBS-C, and -induced constipation. It softens stool by drawing more water into it, allowing stool to pass easily. Side effects include nausea, diarrhea, headache, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Misoprostol may help with constipation. It helps to speed up the movement of stool through the intestines and triggers more frequent bowel movements. Misoprostol should not be used when pregnant.

Plecanatide helps the body to make more fluids in the intestines, allowing the stool to move more easily. It is usually prescribed for people with chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). Diarrhea is a potential side effect.

Featured image: saragolfart via DepositPhotos

Posted on May 5, 2023