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Over The counter Drugs for Constipation

Introduction for Constipation 

Constipation refers to:

  • Infrequent bowel movements/passing of stool (usually <3 times per week)
  • Difficulty during passing stool or a sensation of hard stools
  • The sensation of incomplete bowel evacuation even after straining

Constipation usually occurs due to inadequate fibre in the diet, lack of proper exercises, defects in the intestines or psychological factors. While the simple causes can be effectively managed with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, long-term constipation needs medical attention to rule out or treat any underlying pathologies. Administration of these medications in children should be only under doctor’s guidance.1–3


OTC Medications For Constipation

The common OTC medications for constipation have been grouped as follows: 2–5

  • Bulk-forming agents
  • Lubricating agents
  • Stool softeners
  • Osmotic laxatives
  • Stimulants

Read more about Over The Counter Drugs for Constipation


When to Seek Medical Help for Constipation

Prompt medical attention should be sought in the following cases:

  • Sudden occurrence of constipation with cramps in the abdomen
  • Severe abdominal pain, especially with the feeling of bloatedness
  • Presence of blood in stool
  • Constipation alternating with diarrhea or associated with vomiting
  • Presence of underlying conditions such as congestive heart failure or kidney disorders
  • Constipation not resolved even after using laxatives for several weeks

Over The Counter Drugs for Constipation

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: May 21, 2012

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  1. Rao SS. Constipation: evaluation and treatment. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2003; 32(2): 659-683.
  2. Alonso-Coello P, Mills E, Heels-Ansdell D, Lopez-Yarto M, Zhou Q, Johanson JF, et al. Fiber for the treatment of hemorrhoids complications: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2006; 101(1):181–188.
  3. Biggs WS, Dery WH. Evaluation and treatment of constipation in infants and children. Am Fam Physician. 2006; 73: 469–477, 479–480, 481–482.
  4. Hsieh C. Treatment of constipation in older adults. Am Fam Physician. 2005; 72: 2277–2285.
  5. Schiller LR. Review article: the therapy of constipation. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2001; 15: 749–763.
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