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Do Probiotics Cause Constipation?

by
author image Hannah Rose
Hannah Rose is a professional writer who is also preparing a doctoral dissertation focusing on program development. She received her Master of Arts in psychology in May 2011 and is pursuing her Doctor of Psychology at George Fox University with a focus on clinical psychology. She also works as a primary care therapist for a family medical clinic.
Do Probiotics Cause Constipation?
The probiotics found in yogurt can actually improve, rather than worsen, constipation. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Probiotics are living cultures of bacteria that are safe for human consumption. These bacteria cultures are found in products like yogurt and raw milk, and they are sometimes used to boost the health of the digestive tract; some probiotics can supplement the intestines with healthy bacteria that aid in digestion, reducing unwanted gastrointestinal problems. This can improve the duration and severity of conditions like constipation, so -- rather than cause constipation, --probiotics can actually be used as a treatment.

Constipation Causes

Constipation can result from multiple factors. A lack of exercise and/or movement, dehydration and resisting the urge to pass stool can lead to constipation. A low-fiber diet can also make it tougher to pass stool, and stress can cause or worsen constipation. Hormonal imbalances in women, and some medications, can also play a role, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Research

Medical experts have not produced research suggesting probiotics cause or lead to constipation. This does not rule out the possibility that probiotics could cause or contribute to the development of constipation, but the existing research suggests that other factors outside of taking probiotics are the likely reason you become constipated.

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Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics may actually prove beneficial as a treatment for constipation. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that probiotic treatments have shown improvements in the severity and duration of constipation in older individuals. An April 2007 article in "Medical News Today" reports that daily probiotic treatments can improve digestive health and alleviate constipation, particularly when combined with soluble fiber.

Considerations

Even though probiotics present several health benefits to the consumer, including the treatment of constipation, you should not take probiotics as a supplement before discussing it with your doctor. Probiotics could have an adverse effect on certain medical conditions and may interact negatively with some medications, particularly those treating the digestive tract. Also, do not give probiotics to a child without first getting clearance from a doctor.

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