5 Available Prescription Options

Once you discuss your symptoms and the impact of chronic idiopathic constipation on your life, your doctor may feel that a prescription medication, along with lifestyle changes, can offer the best relief. He or she will likely consider one of these five options.

Linzess (linaclotide)

Linzess is a prescription drug that's used to treat IBS-C and CIC in adults. It helps alleviate constipation because it causes more fluid to be pulled into the intestine, which softens stools and makes them easier to pass. As stools become softer, symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating and straining on the toilet may also get better.

Linzess is taken in the morning, a half hour before eating. Some of the potential side effects include diarrhea, bloating, gas, and abdominal pain or discomfort—you may already be experiencing some of these with CIC, but the difference is that Linzess will help you pass stool.

Diarrhea is the most commonly reported side effect. There is the potential for severe diarrhea, and if that happens, it should be reported to a healthcare professional right away. Remember, although diarrhea may seem like an improvement over constipation, it is still not considered a normal, healthy bowel movement.

Miralax (polyethylene glycol 3350)

Miralax is a type of osmotic laxative that works by bringing more water into the bowel in order to make stools softer. It is available by prescription and over-the-counter to treat constipation in adults.

Potential side effects are gas, bloating, and abdominal cramps, which are usually mild, but should be discussed with a doctor if they occur.

Amitiza (lubiprostone)

Amitiza affects the stool by bringing more water into the intestines, creating softer stools and preventing constipation. One potential side effect of this medication is discomfort or tightness in the chest and shortness of breath, which typically happens about an hour after taking the drug and goes away after about  three hours.

Nursing mothers should talk to their doctors before using this medication because Amitiza may pass into breastmilk and affect a nursing baby. People who experience severe diarrhea or nausea after taking this medication should also contact their doctors.

Resolor, Resotran (prucalopride)

This medication helps with chronic constipation by targeting the muscles in the gut and stimulating them to work to pass a bowel movement along (increasing peristalsis).

Prucalopride might be prescribed when other types of laxatives don't work to relieve the constipation. The most common side effects are nausea, headache, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort or pain, but these symptoms often abate a few days after starting the drug.

Note that this medication is approved for use in the European Union and Canada, but not in the United States.

Trulance (plecanatide)

Trulance is a medication that is approved to treat CIC in adults. It works by drawing an appropriate amount of liquid into the small intestine, which affects the consistency of stools. The resulting stools are softer and easier to pass, which also means that bowel movements happen more frequently and easily.

Trulance is taken once a day. Diarrhea is the most frequently experienced side effect, which might start within the first month of treatment. If the diarrhea becomes severe, a doctor should be consulted.