Best Over The Counter Medicine For Constipation

Best Over The Counter Medicine For Constipation – Medical Review Jared Meacham, Ph.D., RD, PMP, MBA, CSCS – Helen West – Updated January 24, 2023

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Best Over The Counter Medicine For Constipation

Best Over The Counter Medicine For Constipation

Our team thoroughly researches and evaluates the recommendations we present on our site. To determine whether a product manufacturer has met safety and efficacy standards:

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Various home remedies like drinking plenty of water and eating fiber can help control constipation. If home remedies don’t help, prescription and over-the-counter medications are available.

Constipation affects approximately 20% of the population in the United States, resulting in 8 million physician visits each year (

People can become constipated because of the foods they eat or skip, their lifestyle, medications they take, or health problems. Many people do not know the cause of their chronic constipation. This is called chronic idiopathic constipation.

Constipation can have a serious negative impact on quality of life and physical and mental health (

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There are many natural ways to get rid of constipation. People can do this in the comfort of their own homes and it is backed by most of the science.

Regular dehydration can cause a person to become constipated. To prevent this, it’s important to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated (6,

When a person is constipated, he can get relief by drinking carbonated (sparkling) water. This can help them rehydrate and get things moving.

Best Over The Counter Medicine For Constipation

Some studies have found that sparkling water is more effective than tap water at relieving constipation. This includes people with indigestion or dyspepsia and people with chronic idiopathic constipation (9,

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However, it’s not a good idea to drink carbonated beverages such as sugary sodas, as these drinks can negatively affect your health and cause constipation.)

Some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) find that carbonated beverages make their symptoms worse, so these individuals may want to avoid sparkling water and other carbonated beverages.

Bottom line: Dehydration can lead to constipation, so be sure to drink plenty of water. Green water can be even more effective in relieving constipation.

This is because increased fiber increases the frequency and consistency of bowel movements, making them easier to pass. This helps them pass through the digestive system more quickly (14).

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In fact, a 2016 review found that 77% of people with chronic constipation benefit from fiber supplements (

However, some studies have found that increasing fiber can make the problem worse. Others report that fiber improves stool frequency but does not help with other symptoms of constipation, such as stool consistency, pain, bloating, and gas (

There are many types of fiber, but they generally fall into two categories: insoluble fiber and soluble fiber.

Best Over The Counter Medicine For Constipation

Insoluble fiber—found in whole grains, vegetables, and whole grains—fills the root more and can pass through the digestive system more quickly and easily.

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Soluble fiber—found in whole grains, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and peas, as well as some fruits and vegetables—absorbs water and forms a gel-like paste that softens the mouth and improves its consistency.

A 2020 review found that psyllium was 3.4 times more effective than insoluble wheat bran for constipation (

This is in part because insoluble fiber can exacerbate problems for some people who have functional bowel problems, such as IBS or chronic idiopathic constipation (

Some soluble fibers may also be ineffective in treating constipation because they are fermented by bacteria in the gut and lose their ability to retain water (

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To prevent constipation, people should try to eat a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber. The recommended total daily intake of fiber is 25 grams (g) for women and 38 grams (14) for men.

Bottom line: Try to eat foods high in fiber. Supplementing the diet with soluble insoluble fiber such as psyllium can also help.

Studies have linked a sedentary lifestyle to an increased risk of constipation. For this reason, some healthcare professionals recommend increasing exercise to get your stool moving (23).

Best Over The Counter Medicine For Constipation

Other studies have shown that exercise does not always improve the number of trips to the bathroom, but it can reduce some symptoms and improve people’s quality of life.

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In people with IBS, moderate exercise (brisk walking) can improve digestive symptoms and quality of life. However, vigorous exercise (jogging) can worsen some symptoms (

Try some light exercise—such as regular walking, swimming, cycling, or jogging—to see if that helps.

For some people, drinking coffee can be like going to the bathroom. Because coffee stimulates the muscles of the digestive system (

In fact, a 1998 study found that caffeinated coffee can stimulate the gut just as food does. This effect was 60% stronger than drinking water and 23% stronger than drinking caffeinated coffee.

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Coffee may also contain small amounts of soluble fiber, which helps prevent constipation by improving the balance of gut bacteria (32,

This means caffeine’s bowel-stimulating properties may be stronger in people with IBS. It can also worsen digestive symptoms (

Bottom line: Coffee can help relieve constipation by stimulating the muscles in the colon. It may also contain a small amount of soluble fiber.

Best Over The Counter Medicine For Constipation

Fenugreek contains plant compounds called glycosides that stimulate the nerves in the gut and speed up bowel movements (36).

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Doctors consider senna safe for adults for a short period of time, but people should see a doctor if symptoms do not improve after a few days.

Doctors generally do not recommend using senna for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, or people with certain medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Bottom Line: Herbal decoctions are a popular remedy for constipation. It stimulates the intestinal nerves to speed up bowel movements.

Probiotics can help prevent chronic constipation. Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria that occur naturally in the gut. These include

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Some people with chronic constipation have an imbalance of bacteria in their gut. Eating more probiotic foods can help improve this balance and prevent constipation.

A 2019 review of research found that taking probiotics for 2 weeks can help treat constipation, increase bowel frequency, and improve bowel consistency (

They can help treat constipation by producing short-chain fatty acids. It can stimulate bowel movements and facilitate the passage of stool (

Best Over The Counter Medicine For Constipation

Alternatively, try a probiotic supplement. Some studies have found that people start to feel the benefits of this supplement after 4 weeks (

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Try taking probiotic supplements available online or eating more probiotic-rich foods to see if that helps with constipation. Prebiotic foods include:

One can talk to a doctor or pharmacist about choosing the right isolate. Different types have different modes of action, but all are effective for constipation (

However, people should not take many of these isolates regularly without talking to a doctor.

Bottom Line: Laxatives are effective in relieving constipation. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what is best to use.

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Constipation can be a symptom of IBS. The low FODMAP diet is an elimination diet that helps treat IBS and may reduce IBS-related constipation (

The diet involves restricting high FODMAP foods for a period of time to determine what the body tolerates before reintroducing them (

(Such people will look to other aspects of their diet to help relieve their symptoms, such as getting enough water and fiber.)

Best Over The Counter Medicine For Constipation

Bottom Line: A low-FODMAP diet can help reduce IBS-related constipation. However, this alone may not be sufficient relief.

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Glucomannan is a type of soluble fiber from the roots of the konjac plant. Some studies suggest that it is effective against constipation (

In addition to improving intestinal motility, glucomannan can act as a prebiotic to improve the balance of good bacteria in the gut.

A review of the effects of glucomannan in children concluded that glucomannan slightly increased bowel motility but did not increase stool consistency or overall therapeutic benefit (50).

Glucomannan supplements are also available. They vary in their benefits from brand to brand, so it’s best to compare brands before buying. Glucomannan supplements are available online.

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Although dietary fiber reduces constipation by improving bowel consistency and elasticity, prebiotics work by improving digestive health.

Prebiotic fiber improves digestion by feeding beneficial bacteria in the gut, which increases probiotic production and improves the balance of gut bacteria (

In fact, some prebiotics can help increase the frequency of bowel movements as well as loosen the stool (53).

Best Over The Counter Medicine For Constipation

However, the low FODMAP diet does not include garlic and onions because these foods can cause symptoms in people with IBS.

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Bottom Line: Foods containing prebiotic fiber can improve digestive health and the balance of beneficial gut bacteria. Prebiotics can help relieve constipation.

Magnesium citrate is a popular home remedy for constipation. This is a type of osmotic laxative that people can buy over the counter or online.

Magnesium supplements taken in moderation can help relieve constipation. Doctors use high doses to prepare and clean the bowel before surgery

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