As you may already know, constipation is very annoying at the least. It can disrupt daily activities and make you feel uncomfortable and uneasy. At most, it can be painful and cause bleeding, especially when you have to strain to poop.If taking prune juice, eating special foods and bulking up on fiber is taking too long to ease your symptoms, you may want to resort to some OTC constipation remedies.
Constipation can have a variety of causes, the main cause being a lack of fiber in your diet. A number of patients often come up to me in the pharmacy asking about the best constipation remedies. Let’s do a rundown of the products that may help relieve that plugged up feeling.
Over-the-Counter Constipation Remedies
Constipation remedies are called laxatives. There are many different types, each acting in a certain way to help you pass stool more easily. Bisacodyl, for example, is a stimulant laxative. It works to trigger the colon to help move the stool along. Sennosides, which are naturally-derived substances, also work in the same way to ease constipation.
Another type would be the saline laxatives. They work by pulling water into the bowels. This leads to more water in the stool, making it much easier to pass out. Sodium phosphate and polyethylene glycol are medications that fall under this category.
A third type of constipation remedies would be the stool softeners. As the name implies, they work to soften the stool. They are usually the first type of medication used to prevent and treat constipation. A medication called docusate falls under this category. It’s usually the choice when you have to avoid straining, such as if you’ve just had a heart attack or surgery.
Which Dosage Form Should I Take?
Tablet, suppository, enema… Yep, it can be quite confusing when you first encounter these different dosage forms. Constipation remedies are effective in different forms, so it’s usually up to you to decide which form is most comfortable and which can give you faster relief.
Many constipation remedies come in tablet form, making them much easier to take. They can effectively ease constipation but may take more time to act than other forms.
An enema, or a liquid administered into the rectum, can be rapidly effective. It can provide relief in just a few minutes to an hour (wow!). Enemas are mostly used before a surgery on the lower abdomen to evacuate the bowels.
They work great for cases of constipation too! Enemas usually come with applicator tips or nozzles for easier use. The only downside is that they may be a bit messier to use. Oh, and you’d have to lie down and wait for them to work as well (or, you know, risk the fluid leaking out from you-know-where…).
Suppositories, on the other hand, are solid dosage forms administered into the rectum. They’re usually a bit bigger than a tablet. You’ll notice that they come in a bullet shape for easier administration. Though they may take a bit more effort to use than tablets, they offer quick relief in a few hours.
Other medications are also available as powders for you to dissolve in water. You can take them in the same way as an enema.