What are the best laxatives for chronic constipation?


Quick Answer

To treat chronic constipation, increase fiber intake through bulking laxatives, such as Metamucil, Benefiber and Fiber-Lax, suggests WebMD. Slower stool softeners, such as Colace, are generally prescribed for people recovering from surgery. Stimulant laxatives, such as Ex-Lax, can be used occasionally to provide immediate relief.

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Full Answer

Because fiber is available through fruits, vegetables and whole grains, it is considered one of the most common and safest treatments for constipation, according to WebMD. Increases in fiber intake should always be accompanied by water to minimize the possibility of flatulence and obstructions. If fiber intake is increased too rapidly, either through diet or supplements, cramping, bloating and gas are likely to occur.

Increased physical activity can provide relief from constipation, reports WebMD. Aerobic exercise accelerates the heart and breathing rates, causing the intestinal muscles to contract more rapidly and decrease the amount of time it takes for food to move through the body.

Long-term laxative use to treat chronic constipation is not recommended, according to Mayo Clinic, with the possible exception of bulk-forming laxatives. Long-term laxative usage is known to interfere with the body's ability to absorb nutrients and can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Laxatives can also interact with medications. Finally, if the body begins to rely on laxatives, the muscles of the colon weaken and can no longer contract effectively, worsening constipation.

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