Many medications can contribute to constipation, including but are not limited to the following:
- Antidepressants -“A lot of antidepressants that treat the nerve endings in the brain also affect nerve endings in the gut. That can lead to significant side effects,” says Dr. Braden Kuo, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
- Opioids -“The narcotic effect can cause nerves in the gut to ‘sleep,’ inhibiting movement,” explains Dr. Kuo.
- Calcium-channel blockers – relax the smooth muscles in blood vessels to lower blood pressure, also relax the muscles in the gut and may cause constipation.
- Anticholinergics – block the effects of acetylcholine, a chemical that helps the muscles move. Less movement in the gut can lead to constipation.
Older adults can be more susceptible to the constipation side effect of medications because of a digestive system that’s off balance.
Constipation symptoms include
- having bowel movements too infrequently (typically fewer than three times a week);
- having hard or small, lumpy stools;
- having stools that are hard to pass;
- having painful bowel movements;
- having the sensation of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement.
What you can do
- Adding more fiber to your diet can ease constipation.
- using a fiber supplement with psyllium seed or methylcellulose.
- Long-term treatment options: over-the-counter remedies such as polyethylene glycol 3350 (Miralax), prescription medications such as linaclotide (Linzess).
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