Constipation is a common problem which can be caused by a number of things. Not eating enough fibre or not drinking enough fluid can cause constipation. Some conditions (such as pregnancy) can cause constipation, as can a lack of exercise or movement (such as being ill in bed) and some medicines.
Often, increasing the amount of fibre (bran) in your diet and drinking plenty of water each day can effectively prevent or relieve constipation. You will have been recommended ispaghula husk to help relieve constipation if you cannot increase the amount of fibre in your diet, or if this is insufficient. Ispaghula husk, a laxative, works by increasing the bulk of your stools, which encourages your bowels to move the stools through your digestive system, in turn relieving constipation.
Sachets containing granules of ispaghula husk are available on prescription, and can also be bought without a prescription at pharmacies and other retail outlets.
Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about ispaghula husk and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience.
Take ispaghula husk exactly as your doctor tells you to, or as directed on the pack. The usual dose for an adult is one sachet taken twice a day. Pour the granules from the sachet into a glass of water (about 150 ml), stir well, and then drink the liquid as soon as possible.
It is best if you take your doses just after a meal. Never take a dose at bedtime.
If a doctor or healthcare professional has recommended ispaghula husk for your child, check the label on the pack carefully to make sure that you give the correct dose for the age of your child. Remember to stir the granules into a glass of water before giving the mixture to your child.
If you forget to take a dose, do not worry, just take the next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains the ones which sometimes occur with ispaghula husk. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
- Ispaghula husk side-effects
- Mild allergic-type reactions such as nose or eye irritation, feeling short of breath, itchy skin
- Excess wind (flatulence), bloating, tummy (abdominal) discomfort
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the granules, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
To make sure this is the right treatment for you, ask for advice from a doctor or pharmacist before you start using ispaghula husk if any of the following apply to you:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
- If it is for a child. This is because laxatives should only be given to children on the advice of a doctor or healthcare professional.
- If you have any difficulty in swallowing.
- If you are so constipated that you think you may have a blockage.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
The patient information leaflet (PIL) is a leaflet containing specific information about medical conditions, doses and side effects. You can download a copy of the PIL here:
Patient Info Leaflet