Munson Health
 
Constipation

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by Carson-DeWitt R
 

Treatment

Treatment may include:

Understanding Normal Bowel Movements

Talk to your doctor about what is a normal frequency of bowel movements for you. The range of normal is quite broad. Some people have several stools a day. Others have one stool every several days.

Making Lifestyle Changes

Taking Laxatives, Stool Softeners, or Glycerin Suppositories

Regularly using laxatives or enemas can be habit forming. Your bowels can become used to these products and require them to produce a stool. Stool softeners, though, are not habit-forming. Ask your doctor about how often and for how long to use these products.
Examples of medications include:
  • Polyethylene glycol 3350—a type of laxative
  • Psyllium—a bulk laxative
  • Docusate—a stool softener
  • Lactulose—a type of laxative
  • Lubiprostone—a medication that increases fluid in stool
  • Botulism injections—may be used to treat certain types of constipation

Retraining Your Bowels

Set aside the same time each day to move your bowels. Typically, this works best first thing in the morning. Sit on the toilet for 15-20 minutes. Over time, your body will learn to have regular bowel movements at the same time each day.

Using Biofeedback

Biofeedback may be effective in certain conditions. By working with a therapist, you learn how to control certain muscles that can help you to move your bowels.

Treating Underlying Conditions

Work with your doctor to treat other conditions that may be causing your constipation.

Changing Medications

If you are taking medication that causes constipation, talk to your doctor to find out if you can take a different medication.
If you are taking opioids to relieve pain, you may have constipation. A medication called methylnaltrexone may help to reduce this side effect.

Having Surgery

If you have severe, chronic constipation, your doctor may recommend surgery.
If you are diagnosed with constipation, follow your doctor's instructions.
 

RESOURCES

American Gastroenterological Association
http://www.gastro.org

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
http://www.niddk.nih.gov

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Healthy U
http://www.healthyalberta.com

 

References


Camilleri M, Kerstens R, Rykx A, Vandeplassche L. A placebo-controlled trial of prucalopride for severe chronic constipation. N Engl J Med. 2008;358(22):2344-2354.


Constipation. AGA Patient Center, American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/constipation. Updated January 2013. Accessed December 12, 2013.


Constipation. American Academy of Family Physicians' Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/constipation.printerview.all.html. Updated October 17, 2012. Accessed December 12, 2013.


Constipation. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipation. Updated September 18, 2013. Accessed September 18, 2013.


Treatment of constipation. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders website. Available at: http://www.aboutconstipation.org/site/about-constipation/treatment. Updated November 22, 2013. Accessed December 12, 2013.


What I need to know about constipation. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipation%5Fez. Published September 11, 2013. Accessed December 12, 2013.


6/25/2008 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Thomas J, Karver S, Cooney GA, et al. Methylnaltrexone for opioid-induced constipation in advanced illness. N Engl J Med. 2008;358:2332-2343.


11/30/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Arebi N, Kalli T, Howson W, Clark S, Norton C. Systematic review of abdominal surgery for chronic idiopathic constipation. Colorectal Dis. 2010 Oct 22. [Epub ahead of print]


6/20/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Attaluri A, Donahoe R, Valestin J, Brown K, Rao SS. Randomised clinical trial: dried plums (prunes) vs. psyllium for constipation. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011;33(7):822-828.

 

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