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Medicines which can cause constipation

Examples of medicines which can be a factor in constipation

There are many different factors that can cause constipation, but one of the main triggers can sometimes be the medicines that we are taking, from over the counter painkillers to prescribed antidepressants. It is important to recognise which medications can induce constipation and to speak to your doctor about altering your prescription. Here, our digestive expert Ali Cullen acknowledges and discusses the medicines that can influence our digestive systems.

An introduction to medicines and constipation

Listed below, you will find some examples of medicines, either prescribed by your doctor or available for purchase from your pharmacy, which may bring about or contribute to constipation. The list is intended only as a guide and is not exhaustive.

If you are not sure if the medicine you are taking causes constipation, read the patient information leaflet accompanying your medicine. Do not stop using prescribed medication without first speaking to your doctor.

Some types of pain-killers

Codeine containing medications such as Co-Codamol, Paracodol, Solpadeine Max, Syndol. Other prescribed pain-killing medicines including tramadol, oxycodone, buprenorphine, fentanyl, morphine. 

Some cough medicines

Linctus containing codeine or pholcodeine. 

Antacids

Aluminium containing antacids. 

Calcium supplements

All calcium salts eg. calcium carbonate. 

Some anti-deprssants

Amitriptyline.

Some anti-epileptics

Phenytoin, carbamazepine.

Some blood pressure or heart medicines

Calcium channel blockers such as verapamil, nifedipine, amiodipine and diltiazem.

Diuretics

All diuretics may cause constipation as increased water elimination means less water available for stool formation.

Iron supplements

Ferrous sulphate, ferrous gluconate.

Antispasmodics

Hyoscine, dicycloverine.

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Traditionally used as a constipation remedy for many decades