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 What is Constipation?

constipation woman holding stomachConstipation is one of the most common side effects affecting the digestive system caused by medicines. Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs abnormally high amounts of water from the digestive system, causing a dryness and hardening of the feces. This results in an irregular difficulty in emptying the bowels. Cases of constipation can be mild or severe, some patients may be unable to defecate for several days and bay develop serious abdominal pain and bloating.

There are several sources of constipation. Most conditions result from certain dietary deficiencies. Constipation may typically be caused from dehydration or a lack of adequate fiber intake. Constipation may also be caused by inadequate exercise or even an allergy to lactose (milk products). The following medicines may also cause side effects of constipation:

  • opioids and pain relievers
  • ulcer medications
  • treatments for high blood pressure
  • cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • antidepressants
  • medicines for treating Parkinson’s disease
  • iron supplements

How is Constipation Treated?

Patients who are constipated are generally recommended a diet of high fiber products including prune juice, cabbage, fruits or fiber supplements.  Soluable fiber helps to absorb water, and insoluable fiber pushes food through the digestive system. By increasing fiber intake, stools may be passed more easily. Persons with constipation may also need to follow a healthy exercise plan, avoid sitting still for too long, and keep hydrated by drinking more water.