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Medication for Constipation

Sometimes increasing fiber and exercise isn’t a sufficient treatment for constipation and patients must take something a little stronger. Luckily, there are plenty of over-the-counter and prescription medications for patients that can help ease the pain of constipation and keep the stool moving smoothly throughout the digestive system.

Oral Osmotics

Since the colon can extract water from your stool when you are dehydrated, a medication that uses this extra water reserve in reverse can help to ease constipation.

This over-the-counter medication works by extracting water from your colon and other parts of your body into your stool, making it easier to pass through your colon and out your rectum.

Oral Bulk Formers

When you become constipated, your stool loses water and can shrink down, making your colon unable to contract muscles to move the stool along. Oral bulk formers are an over-the-counter medication that absorb water and pass it along to your stool, making your stool bulkier and allowing your muscles to contract and move the stool to your rectum.

Oral Stool Softeners

Another over-the-counter medication, oral stool softeners simply add water to your stool, making them less hard and dry so you don’t need to strain so much during your bowel movements.

Oral Stimulants

This over-the-counter medication can help activate the intestinal muscles. Sometimes when you become constipated, your intestinal walls are unable to move the stool to the rectum.

Activating the muscles in the intestinal walls can force the stool along through rhythmic stimulation.

Rectal Stimulants

Like oral stimulants, rectal stimulants are an over-the-counter treatment to help keep muscles contracting through constipation; however, these keep the rectal muscles contracting in rhythmic movements to help pass stool along.


This prescription constipation medication, like oral stool softeners, delivers water to the stool so your colon, intestinal and rectum muscles have an easier time moving the stool out of your body. The prescription strength is a higher dosage than most over-the-counter stimulants and can work faster and stronger but has more adverse side effects, like gas, diarrhea and cramps.


Another prescription medication, this once-a-day tablet should be taken on an empty stomach. This drug works by initiating more frequent bowel movements and is only approved for adult consumption.

When taken 30 minutes before the first meal, Linaclotide can help increase the flow of stool through the rectum.


Lubiptrostone (also known by the brand name Amitiza), can help chronic constipation—or constipation that happens more than a few times a year—by delivering more water to the stool. The stool can pass through the colon, intestines and out the rectum more easily. This drug must be taken twice a day with a meal. Though this strong medication works fast, it is only approved for constipation that is not caused by other diseases, conditions or medications.

Polyethylene Glycol

This prescription laxative allows more water to be absorbed by the stool, allowing the stool to bulk and move more smoothly through the digestive system. Many patients take this medication when they are unable to take fiber supplements or when their bodies are unable to process fiber supplements.

When your body does not respond to more natural methods of easing constipation, try one of these over-the-counter or prescription medications that should help your body move your stool through your digestive system