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Please click here to read about the different causes of constipation, treatment and prevention. 

Please seek medical attention if you have any bleeding from the rectum or in your stools as this is not treatable over the counter.


Non-Pharmacologic | Bulk-Forming AgentsOsmotic Agents | Stool Softener Lubricants | Stimulants  

Non-Pharmacologic options for treating constipation: 

1) Changes in eating, diet, and nutrition:

Changes in your eating, diet, and nutrition can treat constipation.

These changes include drinking liquids throughout the day. A health care professional can recommend how much and what kind of liquids you should drink.

Eating more fruits and vegetables.

Eating more fiber.

Read about what you should eat to help prevent and relieve constipation and foods to avoid if you are constipated.


2) Exercise and lifestyle changes:

Exercising every day may help prevent and relieve constipation.


You can also try to have a bowel movement at the same time each day. Picking a specific time of day may help you have a bowel movement regularly. For example, some people find that trying to have a bowel movement 15 to 45 minutes after breakfast helps them have a bowel movement. Eating helps your colon move stool. Make sure you give yourself enough time to have a bowel movement. You should also use the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to have a bowel movement.


OTC (Pharmacologic) Treatment options for Constipation:

Bulk-forming agents. Bulk-forming agents absorb fluid in your intestines, making your stool bulkier. Bulkier stool helps trigger the bowel to contract and push stool out. Be sure to take bulk-forming agents with water or they can cause an obstruction or a blockage in your bowel. They can also cause bloating and pain in your abdomen.


1) Citrucel

2) FiberCon

3) Metamucil 


Osmotic agents. Osmotic agents help stool retain fluid. Stools with more fluid increase your number of bowel movements and soften stool. Older adults and people with heart or kidney failure should be careful when taking osmotic agents. They can cause dehydration or a mineral imbalance.


1) Miralax

2) Milk of Magnesia 

3)Magnesium Citrate 

4) Sorbitol


Stool softeners. Stool softeners help mix fluid into stools to soften them. Doctors recommend stool softeners for people who should avoid straining while having a bowel movement. Doctors often recommend stool softeners after surgery or for women after childbirth. Also great for people on short term or chronic narcotic pain medication. 


1) Colace (docusate sodium)


Lubricants. Lubricants work by coating the surface of stool, which helps the stool hold in fluid and pass more easily. Lubricants are simple, inexpensive laxatives. Doctors may recommend lubricants for people with anorectal blockage


1) Fleet


NOTE: If these laxatives listed above don’t work for you, your doctor may recommend other types of laxatives (stimulant):


Stimulants. Stimulant laxatives cause the intestines to contract, which moves stool. You should only use stimulants if your constipation is severe or other treatments have not worked as these are a non-gentle approach to relieving constipation.  

1) Bisacodyl

2) Senna or Senna plus Docusate


People should not use stimulant laxatives containing phenolphthalein. Phenolphthalein may increase your chances of cancer. Most laxatives sold in the United States do not contain phenolphthalein. Make sure to check the ingredients on the medicine’s package or bottle. (Products listed here do NOT contain phenolphthalein)


NOTE: If you’ve been taking laxatives for a long time and can’t have a bowel movement without taking a laxative, talk with your doctor about how you can slowly stop using them. If you stop taking laxatives, over time, your colon should start moving stool normally.

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