If you've ever dealt with constipation you likely already know that certain foods can help clog up your digestive system (hello, cheese!). But you may be surprised to learn that plenty of non-food factors can leave you plugged up. Here are some reasons you may be having toilet troubles — and if you're still feeling off, laxative treatments such as MiraLAX (which works with the water in your body to hydrate and soften, unblocking your system naturally) can come to the rescue for occasional constipation. But, as with all OTC medications, following the directions on the label is key, since improper usage could disrupt your digestive system even more — and if you find yourself reaching for a laxative for longer than a week, it's time to call your doctor, because there could be something more serious going on.
Check the fine print on any medication (prescription or over-the-counter) you take regularly, since many drugs can cause — or aggravate — constipation. One big offender: prescription pain killers. A 2016 study from the American Society of Anesthesiologists found that 65 percent of patients using opioids for lower back pain experienced constipation from the treatment. If you think your daily meds may be slowing down your system, talk to your physician.
Emotional and physical health tend to go hand-in-hand. It's been long understood that stress can alter gut health, causing both short-and long-term effects. According to a 2011 review of studies, stress was shown to disrupt the entire gastrointestinal tract — from decreasing the amount of "good" bacteria in the gut to slowing down the digestive process to throwing off the colon, which could result in either diarrhea or constipation — all thanks to messages sent from the central nervous system.