Constipation may affect almost every one at one time or another. Constipation is one of the most common GI complaints, affecting an estimated 42 million Americans.1 Constipation causes include diet and lifestyle factors or taking some prescription and commonly used over-the-counter medications.1 Certain pain medications can cause opioid-induced constipation.2 A non-prescription treatment, like an OTC laxative, can help you to move past constipation caused by a variety of factors.1
Laxatives are generally safe and have few side effects when taken properly. Laxatives come in different forms and work in different ways. Bulk forming laxatives absorb water to form bulky stool, prompting normal contraction of intestinal muscles. Osmotic laxatives draw water into the colon to facilitate passage of stool. Stimulant laxatives speed up stool movement by stimulating the intestinal muscles.1
When choosing a laxative, ingredients matter. Some laxatives are derived from natural ingredients while others are not. Ultimately it is a personal decision.
References: 1. Constipation. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). National Institutes of Health. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/constipation/Documents/Constipation_508.pdf. Accessed April 2016. 2.Branch RL, Butt TF. Drug-induced constipation. Adverse Drug Reaction Bulletin. 2009;257:987-990.