What is the role of lubricants and laxatives in the treatment of acute or chronic constipation?

Updated: Mar 30, 2020
  • Author: Marc D Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Rapidly acting lubricants and laxatives, including over-the-counter products, are often used to treat acute and chronic constipation. A meta-analysis affirmed the efficacy of bisacodyl and sodium picosulfate, which share the same active metabolite, in short- to medium-term use in chronic idiopathic constipation. [26] However, their use for acute episodes should be limited, because of the long-term risk of habituation or toxicity.

Polyethylene glycol is simple to use and is more effective than placebo in the management of chronic constipation; however, the effects of long-term therapy with polyethylene glycol over decades are still not well studied.

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