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What treatments are available for constipation?


There are several steps that you can take in order to treat constipation physically without the use of drugs. Most of them are easy steps involving diet and exercise until the symptoms of constipation end and you return to a normal bowel movement schedule. These constipation treatment steps include:

  • Increase fiber intake to bulk up stool
  • Drink an adequate amount of water daily
  • Use the bathroom when you have the urge
  • Increase mobility - exercise

Most people with mild constipation do not need to use laxatives. But a doctor may recommend laxatives or enemas for a limited time for those who have made lifestyle and diet changes and are still constipated. There are many forms of laxatives available for treatment and prevention of constipation.

Laxative Type

Mechanism of Action

Brand Names (active ingredients)

Bulk Forming

Bulks the stool to stimulate the intestines. Take with a sufficient amount of water.

Metamucil® (psyllium)


Increases the amount of water in stool to soften and lubricate it for easy transport through the colon. Take with sufficient amount of water.

Walgreens stool softener (docusate sodium)

Colace capsules®


Contracts the large intestine to allow stool to pass through quickly. Avoid long term use. Caution if you have a bone disorder as it can affect vitamin D and calcium absorption.

Dulcolax® tablets (bisacodyl)


Draws water into the large intestine. For short term use. Avoid use if you have heart failure, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or are on a salt restricted diet.

Miralax® (polyethylene glycol 3350)

Glycerin suppositories




Draws water into the large intestine for easier passage. Avoid long term use.

Magnesium citrate

Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide)

Chloride Channel Activator

Increases fluid content in stool and stimulates motility through the colon.

Amitiza® (prescription product)

Your doctor or health professional should determine if a patient needs a laxative and which form is the best option for you.

Back to Ask a Pharmacist


Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

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