But there are new options in the pipeline. One is a drug called linaclotide, the first compound in a new class of laxative agents. "This would be a very effective alternative to treatment of chronic constipation," Eoff noted.
Another, called prucalopride, works by increasing motility and transit in the colon. "The most recent findings indicate this may be a safe and effective treatment for chronic constipation and hopefully for IBS-C -- irritable bowel syndrome with constipation," he added.
As for preventing constipation, Talley said he's found that a well-balanced diet, exercise, a regular toileting pattern and not avoiding the urge to go when nature calls can help.
"Lifestyle is key for most," he said.
The American Gastroenterological Association has more on constipation.
SOURCES: Nicholas J. Talley, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of internal medicine, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, and professor of medicine and epidemiology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn.; James C. Eoff III, Pharm.D., executive associate dean and professor of clinical pharmacy, University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, Memphis, Tenn.; American Society for Colon and Rectal Surgeons, Arlington Heights, Ill.; April 2004, American Journal of Gastroenterology; Managed Care Interface; New England Journal of Medicine ; November 2008, Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, supplement; January 2009, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
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