Constipation in itself is not life-threatening, but there can be consequences if it is left untreated (including faecal impaction and haemorrhoids).
There are a range of constipation treatments available, that work in different ways. Your pharmacist or doctor can advise what's best for you, depending on the severity and persistence of your constipation as well as factors like age, lifestyle and other health concerns.
Some main treatment types are described below.
These work by increasing the amount of water in the stool, making it softer and easier to pass. Because bulk-forming laxatives work by absorbing water from your body, you need to stay well hydrated by drinking more than the usual (otherwise the constipation might actually get worse). For fit and healthy people with only mild constipation, bulk-forming laxatives may be an effective remedy, but they can take up to three days to work.
Faecal (stool) softeners
Faecal softeners also work in the intestine, enabling additional water and fat to be mixed into the stool, making it easier to pass. Their efficacy on their own is limited, so they are reserved for mild constipation.
Osmotic laxatives work by attracting water from the body into the gut so that more water is held there, softening the stool.
MOVICOL® is gentle and works in harmony with the body. The main active ingredient, macrogol 3350, goes straight to the bowel where, by retaining a set amount of water, it softens, expands and lubricates the stool to trigger peristalsis - in the same way as your normal bowel movement.
MOVICOL® does not ferment either, which means less likelihood of gas or bloating/wind.
Stimulant laxatives can be effective for the rapid relief of constipation. They cause bowel contraction through nerve stimulation. Tablets are usually taken at night and a bowel movement normally follows about 6-12 hours later.