Over-the-counter remedies for constipation vary in content and in the way they work. Two well-known products–Metamucil and Miralax–can relieve symptoms of constipation and provide other benefits as well. Before choosing a laxative or fiber therapy, patients should consult with their physician.
Miralax, also known as polyethylene glycol 3350, treats constipation by drawing water into the colon. Metamucil contains psyllium husk, which is not absorbed by the body and acts as a natural laxative.
Miralax should be taken daily. The powder dissolves in any beverage. Metamucil should be mixed with eight ounces of a beverage and can be taken up to three times a day. Patients taking Metamucil capsules should drink eight ounces of liquid with each dose. Capsules can also be taken up to three or four times a day as fiber therapy.
The psyllium husk in Metamucil works without the addition of stimulants. As the psyllium swells, bulk forms and helps relieve constipation. Miralax's ability to draw water into the colon helps ease bowel movements without some of the side effects commonly associated with laxatives.
Metamucil can be used as fiber therapy or as a laxative. If symptoms of constipation linger past seven days, however, see a physician. Miralax can be taken daily, but is not recommended for long-term use.
Miralax is the first prescription laxative to be available over-the-counter in 30 years. Metamucil is also available without prescription.