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What medications treat constipation?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Most incidences of constipation are treated with diet and lifestyle changes. If this does not relieve your constipation symptoms, you may need medications such as laxatives or enemas. Laxatives come over the counter in many forms. Stool softeners do as described, soften stool to make it easier to pass. Bulking agents add fiber to stool, making it bulkier but softer. Osmotic laxatives also soften stool by causing the intestine to hold more fluid, helping the bowel move them. Lubricant laxatives make stools more slippery. Stimulant laxative make the walls of the large intestine contract, forcing out the stool. Enemas also help relieve constipation if fecal impaction occurs by flushing out the stool. Although some enemas only contain water, some include phosphates or mineral oil. Laxatives and enemas should only be used for a short period of time, since they can become habit forming.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.