Struggling with constipation? There are different ways to relieve constipation such as taking a fiber supplement or eating high fiber foods and taking medication may help move things along. We break down the difference between laxatives, suppositories and more. Here’s everything you need to know.
Constipation is a common digestive problem that occurs when bowel movements become less frequent and difficult to pass. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including a low fiber diet, dehydration, lack of exercise, certain medications, medical conditions, and ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement. Symptoms of constipation can include infrequent bowel movements, difficulty passing stools, abdominal discomfort, and bloating. Treatment for constipation may include dietary changes, increased water intake, exercise, and medication. In some cases, constipation may be a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition, and it is important to consult a healthcare provider for proper evaluation and treatment.
Constipation can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Low fiber diet: A diet that is low in fiber can cause constipation.
- Dehydration: Not drinking enough water or fluids can lead to constipation.
- Lack of exercise: A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to constipation.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as opioids, antacids, and antidepressants, can cause constipation.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), hypothyroidism, and diabetes can cause constipation.
- Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement: Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement can lead to constipation.
- Age: Constipation is more common in older adults due to a slower metabolism and decreased mobility.
Constipation is a common digestive problem that occurs when bowel movements become less frequent and difficult to pass. It can cause discomfort and bloating, and if left untreated, it can lead to more severe health problems. Here are some tips on how to relieve constipation:
Increase fiber intake
Eating more fiber can help promote regular bowel movements. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are good sources of fiber.
Drinking plenty of water and other fluids can help soften stools and make them easier to pass.
Regular physical activity can help stimulate the digestive system and promote bowel movements.
Use the bathroom when needed
Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement can lead to constipation. It is important to listen to your body and use the bathroom when needed.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and may help improve digestive health and relieve constipation.
If you have tried all those tips and nothing has worked you might want to try OTC medication. There are several over-the-counter constipation medications available that can help relieve the symptoms of constipation. Here are some of the most common types:
- Bulk-forming laxatives: These laxatives help to soften the stool by absorbing water and adding bulk to the stool, which stimulates the bowel to move.
- Stool softeners: These medications help to soften the stool, making it easier to pass.
- Osmotic laxatives: These laxatives work by drawing water into the bowel to soften the stool and increase bowel movement.
- Stimulant laxatives: These laxatives stimulate the muscles in the bowel to contract, helping to move the stool along.
- Enemas and suppositories: These medications are inserted into the rectum to stimulate bowel movement.
It is important to talk to a healthcare provider before using any medication for constipation, especially if you have other medical conditions or are taking other medications. In some cases, medication may not be recommended and alternative treatments such as dietary changes, exercise, and lifestyle modifications may be recommended instead.
Bulk-forming laxatives are a type of over-the-counter constipation medication that work by absorbing water and adding bulk to the stool. This helps to stimulate the bowel to move and can help relieve symptoms of constipation. Examples include psyllium, methylcellulose, and polycarbophil.
Bonvit Psyllium Fibre 550mg 180 Capsules
Metamucil Smooth Orange On The Go 30 Sachets
Flordis Agiofibe Granules 250g
Stool softeners are a type of over-the-counter constipation medication that help to soften the stool, making it easier to pass. They work by drawing water into the stool to increase moisture and reduce the need for straining during bowel movements. Examples include docusate sodium and glycerin suppositories.
Glycerol Adult Petrus 12 Suppositories
Coloxyl 50mg Tablets 100 Pack
Glycerol for Children 12 Suppositories
Osmotic laxatives are a type of over-the-counter constipation medication that work by drawing water into the bowel to soften the stool and increase bowel movement. Examples include magnesium citrate, lactulose, and polyethylene glycol (PEG). They are typically used for short-term relief of constipation
Stimulant laxatives are a type of over-the-counter constipation medication that work by stimulating the muscles in the bowel to contract, helping to move the stool along. Examples include bisacodyl, senna, and castor oil. They are typically used for short-term relief of constipation and should not be used long-term.
Dulcolax Suppositories 10 Pack
Senokot Tablets Constipation Relief 100 Pack
Prunelax Extra Strength Senna Laxative 40 Tablets
Enemas and suppositories
Enemas and suppositories are types of over-the-counter constipation medications that are inserted into the rectum to stimulate bowel movement. Enemas are liquid solutions that are inserted into the rectum, while suppositories are solid medications that are inserted into the rectum and dissolve to stimulate bowel movement.
Making a choice
The treatment method for your condition may depend on:
- the cause of your constipation
- how long you’ve been constipated
- the severity of your constipation
Bulk-forming laxatives are generally the safest and most gentle option, while stimulant laxatives should be used sparingly and only for short-term relief. Stool softeners and osmotic laxatives are other options to consider.
Treatment for severe constipation
Treatment for severe constipation may involve a combination of different approaches depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. In addition to over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, such as lubiprostone and linaclotide, may be recommended. Other treatments may include dietary changes to increase fiber intake, increasing water intake, regular exercise, and relaxation techniques. Severe constipation that doesn’t respond to dietary changes or traditional laxatives may benefit from the use of a laxative stimulant. If you find that you can’t pass a bowel movement without taking laxatives, talk with a doctor.
When to see a doctor
If your constipation lasts more than a week and doesn’t respond to treatment, it’s time to talk with a doctor to rule out serious causes. A doctor will also be able to prescribe stronger medication. These may include prescription-strength versions of bulk-forming, osmotic, or stimulant laxatives, as well as other medications such as lubiprostone and linaclotide. Prescription medications may be recommended for individuals with chronic or severe constipation, or for those who have not responded to other treatments. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of prescription medications with a healthcare provider before use.
Be sure to call your doctor if you’re constipated and you:
- go more than 3 days without a bowel movement
- have been using laxatives for more than a week and are still constipated
- have had recent, unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more
- have severe abdominal pain or cramps, blood in your stool, or weakness, dizziness, or fatigue
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
- you should also contact your doctor before giving a laxative to an infant or young child.
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