Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Medications that can Cause Constipation

The use of medication is a risk factor for constipation. A number of therapeutic categories of medications contribute to constipation. All medications can directly or indirectly affect normal bowel function in a variety of ways that include:

  • Slowing down peristaltic contractions
  • Decreasing neurological stimulation of the bowel
  • Decreasing gastric motility
  • Decreasing absorption rates
  • Limiting general personal mobility

The following is a list of categories of medications that may contribute to constipation:

  • Analgesics
  • Continuous opioid therapy
  • Non-opioid therapy: NSAIDS
  • Antacids containing aluminum or calcium
  • Drugs with Anticholinergic activity, such as:
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Antiepileptics
  • Antihistamines
  • Antihypertensives (calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, Beta blockers)
  • AntiParkinson agents
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antispasmodics
  • Anxiolytics
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (e.g., Acetazolamide)
  • Calcium supplements
  • Cytotoxic chemotherapy
  • Vinca alkaloid chemotherapy
  • Other cytotoxic agents
  • Diuretics
  • Histamine-2 blockers
  • Hypnotics
  • Iron supplements
  • Laxatives (usually attributed to long term use of stimulant laxatives)
  • Lipid-lowering drugs
  • Muscle relaxants (e.g., Baclofen)
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Sedatives
Older Adults
Prevention of Constipation in the Older Adult Population
Point of Care Resources