Constipation From Medications

  Constipation From Medications
28 Dec 2023
11 minutes
Table Of Content
Constipation From Medications

    Medications and Digestion: Avoiding the Constipation Pitfall


    Imagine you are  being diagnosed with a disease that requires medicine for relief, only to find out later that the very medications prescribed to you are contributing to an unanticipated side effect: constipation. 

    For many  people around the globe managing the maze of medications and their side effects is a daily reality. For many of us, constipation is a common digestive problem. However, it takes on another dimension when it comes as a side effect of medication—one that's frequently hidden behind prescription labels and pharmacy counters. Join us to  uncover the stories behind the pill bottle and bowel block to  find a healthier, more comfortable life.


    Top 10 medications causing constipation: Unmasking the pill bottles:


    1. Opioid pain medications:  


    Opioid induced constipation occurs in about 15% of the population consuming them for pain relief. Opioid drugs can cause your intestines to retain more water in your stool, which results in a hard, dry stool. Your stool remains in your intestines longer than it should because of the slower movements and hard stool making it difficult to pass feces. Some of the common drugs are: 

    1. Tramadol
    2. Morphine
    3. Fentanyl


    2.  Antidepressants:


    The level of serotonin hormone in the gut may increase as a result of taking some antidepressants. This extra serotonin slows down the normal movements of your intestines. Slower gut movement means stool moves more slowly through the intestines, making it harder for the body to push stool out, resulting in constipation. Some of the common drugs are:

    1. Amitriptyline
    2. Imipramine
    3. Fluoxetine

     3. Iron supplements:


    Iron supplements may cause your intestines to absorb more water and electrolytes, which might result in firmer, dryer stools. Because it is dry and firm, the stool might pass through the intestines more slowly your body finds it more difficult to pass stool due to a combination of slower movement and tougher stools.


    4. Antipsychotic drugs:


    These drugs slow down the regular muscle movements in the stomach  that carry food and waste through your intestines by inhibiting dopamine receptors in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Because of the slower movement, more water may be absorbed from the feces, making it tougher and dryer causing constipation. Some of the drugs are:

    1. Clozapine
    2. chlorpromazine


    5. Antihypertensive medications: 


    The typical rate at which food and waste flow through the intestines can be slowed down by some antihypertensive drugs by slowing down these peristaltic motions in the GI tract. As a result it causes firmer, drier stools. People may find it difficult to pass faeces as a result of slower peristalsis and tougher stools, which can lead to constipation. some common drugs are:

    1. Verapamil
    2. Clonidine
    3. Methyldopa


    6. Anticholinergic drugs:


    Anticholinergic medications can cause decreased peristalsis, by blocking the effects of acetylcholine in the GI tract. Slower movements in the stomach might cause stool to stay in the intestines longer than usual, which can absorb more water from the stool and cause it to become drier and tougher.


    7. Diuretics:


     Diuretics may possess some kind of magnesium and potassium electrolytes imbalances, severe   imbalances of this can impact muscle contractions of stomach and intestines which could slow down bowel motions and lead to constipation. Some common drugs are:

    1. Furosemide
    2. Hydrochlrothiazide


    8. Antacids:

     The action by which antacids function is to neutralize stomach acid. Sometimes a large decrease in stomach acid can interfere with proper digestion by slowing the passage of food and waste through the intestines, which can cause constipation.  Since an excessive amount of calcium and magnesium found in antacids can have the above impact on the body, taking it in excess can contribute to constipation.


    9. Antispasmodic drugs:


     Antispasmodic medications work to lessen spasms or contractions and ease discomfort, but in certain people, they can also cause the GI muscles to relax too much, which can temporarily slow down bowel motions and cause firmer, drier stools, which can exacerbate constipation, by unduly relaxing the GI tract's muscles. 


    10. Antiparkinsonian drugs:


    Parkinson's disease, a disorder marked by a dopamine shortage in the brain, dopamine is essential for controlling how the muscles in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract work, which facilitates the easy passage of waste and food through our intestines. Constipation can result from this natural cycle being disturbed in people with Parkinson's disease. 


    10 Key Strategies for Relieving Medicine-Related Constipation:


    Let's take a look at some effective ways to cope up with constipation caused by medicines.


    1. Stay hydrated:


    Try to drink plenty of water throughout the day, the amount of water absorbed in the colon directly affects the consistency of the stool. If there is insufficient water in the colon, the stool can become hard and dry. On the other hand, if the body is well-hydrated, the stool remains soft and moist.


    2. Fibre up for easy going:


    Try making up a diet plan that includes a lot of fibre since it encourages regular bowel motions and gives stool more volume. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and other high-fibre meals. 


    3. Regular exercise:


    Try to engage in regular physical activities like yoga, walking or light cardio everyday to make sure your digestive system functions properly.


    4. Laxatives:


    Medications or chemicals formulated expressly to encourage bowel motions and relieve constipation are known as laxatives. Depending on their kind and mode of action, they can assist relieve constipation in a variety of ways.  Consult your physician before taking any of these medications as specific types are essential for your constipation. Various kinds of laxatives are available:

    1. Stimulant laxatives ( senna, bisacodyl)
    2. Osmotic laxatives (lactulose, milk of magnesia)
    3. Emollient laxatives (docusate sodium or docusate calcium)


     5. Add prunes or prune juice :


    In addition to containing high fibre prunes also contain sorbitol which ferments in the gut and absorbs more water into the stool, this action producing an laxative effect ultimately relieving your constipation. 


    6.  Establish a routine:


    Try to eat your meals at almost the same time each day, it can stimulate the digestive system and ensure regular bowel movements, also many people naturally have the urge to have bowel movements after meals or waking up and try establishing regular and timely visits to the bathroom.


    7.  Avoid constipation triggers:


    Stay away from foods that can cause constipation or stimulate the condition badly. Some foods to avoid include  processed foods, red meat, diary products, white flour, and alcohol. It is important to make  a note that not all these foods cause constipation, it may vary within individuals, speak with your doctor if you feel your foods make your bowel sick.


    8. Switching your medications:


    Speak with your doctor and adjust the dosage of your medications or either switch to alternative drugs if you suspect your constipation is caused by medicines. This may relieve your sick bowel most of the time.

     9.  Add probiotics: 


    Probiotics contain various strains of good bacteria that promote and support gut health. By restoring the microbial balance in the stomach supports smooth movements and increased stool frequency. Consult your physician before taking probiotics as it is important to choose the right strain for your constipation.


    10.  Enema:


    A medical technique known as an enema involves inserting a liquid solution through the anus into rectum. The liquid solution that is injected during an enema aids in lubricating and softening the feces .This may provoke a bowel movement and becomes a good option for people who need rapid relief from severe constipation because they typically start to work within minutes to an hour of administration. This medical procedure must be carried out only under medical supervision.


    Farewell to constipation, hello to comfort:


    In the era where medicines have become a day to day routine in each home an unwanted guest silently accompanies behind our daily pills. Constipation and its side effects can significantly impact your quality of life . We have uncovered the mysteries behind the medications causing constipation and gave you an insight into the ways to overcome constipation. Let us overcome this bowel barrier and lead a healthy life!


                                                                             “Unblock, Unburden, Unwind”

    Written by
    Dr. Thamizhakaran K SMedical Content Writer
    AboutThamizhakaran K S is a Medical Content writer at Mr.Med. He completed Doctor of pharmacy from Annamalai University in 2023. He has worked as clinical pharmacist intern at Government Cuddalore medical college and hospital. During internship he gained expertise on clincial pharmaclogy, pharmacotherapeutics and clinical research. He also published an research project in International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Research. He has thorough knowledge on clinical trail methodologies and various pharmacovigilance guidelienes. He possesses a strong interest in writing and uses his research skills to clearly communicate health information to the readers.
    Tags :Constipation awareness monthconstipation from medicationsconstipation relieflaxatives