CONSTIPATION - Watsons Health

CONSTIPATION

Being constipated means your bowel movements are difficult or happen less often than normal. Almost everyone has it at some point in life, and it’s usually not serious. Still, you’ll feel much better when your system is back on track.

The normal length of time between bowel movements varies widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements three times a day. Others have them only once or twice a week.

Going longer than three or more days without one is usually too long. After three days, the stool or feces become harder and tougher to pass.

Chronic constipation, on the other hand, is infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stool that persists for weeks or longer.  Chronic constipation can cause excessive straining and become complicated.  Treatment depends on the underlying cause.

You may have:

  • Few bowel movements
  • Trouble having a bowel movement (straining)
  • Hard or small stools
  • A sense that everything didn’t come out
  • Feeling that something is blocking your rectum that prevents bowel movements
  • Swollen abdomen or abdominal pain
  • Needing help to empty rectum, such as using your hands to press on the abdomen

DIAGNOSIS

If you have trouble with your bowel movements for more than two weeks, you should see your doctor. He or she may ask for these tests to find the cause of your constipation:

  • Blood tests to check on hormone levels.
  • Barium studies to look for any blockages in your colon. For this test, you’ll down a special drink and then get an X-ray.
  • Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy or other tests to look for blockages in your colon.

 

RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS

Prescription Drugs to Treat Constipation

Chronic constipation is often cured by natural remedies: A diet with natural fiber from fruits and vegetables, at least eight cups of water a day, and exercise — plus maybe an occasional laxative from the drug store. But if natural remedies and over-the-counter laxatives such as Metamucil, Citrucel, Colace, and Milk of Magnesia don’t help, it may be time to ask your doctor about prescription drugs.

Here are prescription drugs used for the treatment of chronic constipation:

  • Amitiza (lubiprostone). Amitiza, is approved by the FDA for the treatment of chronic constipation from an unknown cause (not constipation due to another condition or treatment). Amitiza softens the stool by increasing its water content, so the stool can pass easily. This medication is taken twice daily with food. Some reported side effects of Amitiza include headache, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
  • Linzess (linaclotide). This drug is a capsule taken once daily on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before the first meal of the day. Linzess helps relieve constipation by helping bowel movements occur more often. It is not approved for use in those age 17 years and younger. The most common side effect of Linzess is diarrhea.
  • Cephula, Chronulac, Constulose, Duphalac, Enulose, (lactulose). Lactulose, a prescription laxative with a variety of brand names, draws water into the bowel to soften and loosen the stool. Side effects include gas, diarrhea, upset stomach, and stomach cramps.
  • Miralax, Glycolax (polyethylene glycol). This drug is an osmotic laxative and causes water to remain in the stool, which results in softer stools. For those patients who do not tolerate dietary fiber supplements, this medication may be recommended.

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