MiraLAX is licensed to treat occasional constipation in adults. This nonprescription laxative works by drawing water into the colon, softening the stool, and increasing the frequency of bowel movements. After taking it, a bowel movement typically occurs within one to three days. Possible off-label (unapproved) uses of MiraLAX include treating constipation in children and preparing the bowel for a colonoscopy.
What Is MiraLAX Used For?MiraLAX® (polyethylene glycol 3350) is an over-the-counter (OTC) laxative medication used to treat occasional constipation. Like all OTC medications, it is available without a prescription.
MiraLAX was originally available by prescription only. In fact, a generic version is still available as a prescription medication. The prescription version is exactly the same as the over-the-counter version, but is more likely to be covered by insurance.
Using MiraLAX for ConstipationConstipation is a change in a person's usual bowel routine. When someone is constipated, they have difficulty passing stool or have less frequent bowel movements than normal. A normal number of bowel movements varies greatly from person to person. Some people may have bowel movements three times a day, while others have them three times a week.
If you have a change in your normal bowel habits, have to strain to have a bowel movement, or pass only small amounts of hard, dry stool, you may be constipated. Other symptoms of constipation could include abdominal (stomach) discomfort and bloating.
Many people suffer from occasional constipation at one time or another -- it is a common problem. Women are more likely to report constipation than men. Problems with constipation also increase as people age.
Although there are many possible causes of constipation, one single cause is not often found. Some of the factors that may contribute to this condition include:
- Dietary factors, such as not eating enough fiber or drinking enough liquids
- Lack of exercise
- Certain medications, including pain medications, some blood pressure medications, and calcium or iron supplements
- Certain medical problems, such as Parkinson's disease, stroke, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
- Abusing laxatives.
(Click Causes of Constipation for more information.)
Sometimes, constipation can be treated or relieved at home. Other times, it is best to see a healthcare provider. Home treatments may include the following:
- Dietary changes -- for example, increasing the amount of fiber and fruits and vegetables in the diet
- Drinking more noncaffeinated beverages (unless your healthcare provider advises you to limit your fluid intake)
- Staying active and exercising within your limits
- Going to the bathroom when you have the urge
- Short-term use of certain over-the-counter laxatives, such as MiraLAX.
(Click Constipation Treatment for more information on relieving this condition.)
In general, you should speak with a healthcare provider if:
- Your constipation is new
- Home remedies do not provide relief after a few days
- You have been constipated for longer than three weeks
- Your constipation is severe or occurs with bloody stool, weight loss, or painful bowel movements.