Constipation is difficult or infrequent passage of hard, dry stool, usually fewer than three times a week, and leaves a feeling of incomplete evacuation. People who are constipated may have difficult and painful bowel movements.
Constipation most often occur in women and adults age 65 and over. Pregnant women may have constipation, and it is a common problem following childbirth or surgery.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
- Laxatives increase the frequency and ease of bowel movements. There are distinct classes of laxatives, w/c function differently and have varying degrees of effectiveness and potential side effects.
- Bulk-forming laxatives generally are considered the safest but can interfere with absorption of some medicines. These laxatives, also known as fiber supplements, are taken with water. They absorb water in the intestine and make the stool softer. Drugs: bran, malt, methylcellulose, polycarbophil, psyllium
- Saline and Osmotic Laxatives creates an osmotic gradient to pull water into the small and large intestine. The increased volume results in detention of the intestinal lumen, causing increased peristalsis and bowel movement. Drugs: magnesium citrate, magnesium hydroxide, sodium phosphate, glycerin, lactulose, sorbitol
- Stimulants cause rhythmic muscle contractions in the intestines to eliminate stool. These laxatives are recommended for short-term use only. Drugs: bisacodyl, castor oil, dehydrocholic acid, senna, sodium picosulfate
- Stool softeners provide moisture to the stool and prevent dehydration. These laxatives are often recommended after childbirth or surgery. Drugs: docusate
- Lubricants grease the stool enabling it to move through the intestine more easily. Drugs: mineral oil