Constipation medicines are laxatives; stimulates, lubricants, stool softeners, etc. It only relief symptoms and not address underlying cause.
As a result, modern medicine often cannot fully remove the disorder and the condition becomes chronic. Currently over 100 million Americans suffer from a chronic constipation even after best modern treatment. When misusing or overusing of laxatives can cause problems, including chronic constipation.
Medications for constipation
There are different types of laxatives come in various forms such as pills, capsules, liquids, suppositories (medical preparation in conical or cylindrical shape, designed to insert into the rectum to dissolve), and enemas. Though using a suppository in the rectum is unpleasant and inconvenient, though these manually inserted (or squirt), laxatives work much faster in relieving symptoms.
Laxatives for constipation include:
- Bulking Agents (Fiber supplements): add bulk to your stool and is useful for normal and slow-transit constipation. Fiber works by increasing the water content and bulk of the stool, which helps to move it quickly through the colon. Abdominal cramping, bloating, or gas are common when abruptly increase dietary fiber intake. Fiber is naturally available in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber is also available over-the-counter in Metamucil, Citrucel, Konsyl, Fiber-Lax, Benefiber, Equilactin, and Fibercon. Common ingredients in this agent include methylcellulose, psyllium, calcium polycarbophil and guar gum.
- Lubricant Laxatives: It makes the stools slippery to move through your colon more easily. The mineral oil within these products adds a slick layer to the intestine's walls and stops the stool from drying out. They are best for short-term cure for constipation. Mineral oil in this laxative can absorb fat-soluble vitamins from the intestine, and decrease certain prescription drugs from being fully absorbed into the body.
- Emollient Laxatives (Stool Softeners): The emollient laxatives such as Surfak and Colace contain docusate, a surfactant that helps to "wet" and soften the stool to allow strain-free bowel movements. It might take a week or longer to be effective, they are frequently used by those recovering from surgery, women after given birth, or individuals with hemorrhoids.
- Osmotic and Hyperosmolar Laxatives: It draw fluids into the intestine from surrounding tissues. More water results in softer stools easier to pass. Example include Fleet Phospho-Soda, Milk of Magnesia or MOM, Kristalose, magnesium citrate, lactulose (Cephula, Chronulac, Constulose, Duphalac, Enulose), polyethylene glycol (MiraLax, Glycolax). You require drinking lot of water to decrease the possible side effects of gas and cramps.
- Stimulant Laxatives: are effective, it is useful if you need almost instantaneous relief from constipation. Oral stimulant: Trigger rhythmic contractions of intestinal muscles to eliminate stool. Rectal stimulants: Trigger rhythmic contractions of intestinal muscles to eliminate stool. Popular stimulant laxatives are Ex-Lax, Senokot, Correctol, Dulcolax, Bisacodyl, Pedia-Lax and Feen-a-Mint. Prunes (dried plums) are also an effective colonic stimulant. Do not use it daily or regularly; may weaken the body's natural ability to defecate and cause laxative dependency.
- Suppositories: Glycerin suppositories (brands: Fleet Suppository, Pedia-Lax Suppository, Colace Suppository) are hyperosmotic laxatives. Glycerin suppositories work by increasing water volume in intestines and softening stool, causing the intestines to contract and produce bowel movements. Glycerin suppositories used for occasional relief of constipation. Patients with constipation has to insert suppository rectally and retain for about 15 minutes. Side effects of glycerin rectal suppositories are rectal discomfort, burning sensation, diarrhea and nausea.
Some laxatives especially after prolonged use can lead to an electrolyte (calcium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and sodium) imbalance. An electrolyte imbalance can cause abnormal heart rhythms, weakness, confusion and seizures.
In case of constipation, one should be very careful with the use of laxatives as they can often weaken the colon due to their strong action. You should take it only in acute conditions.
Other medications for constipation:
Laxative medications that draw water into your intestines:
- Lubiprostone (Amitiza) work in different ways to draw water into the intestines, soften stool, and speed up the feces movement. Some reported side effects of Amitiza include headache, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
- Linzess (linaclotide) helps relieve constipation by helping bowel movements occur more often. It is not for use in those ages 17 and younger. The most common side effect is diarrhea.