Terrible constipation!

Hi, I'm currently on thyroxine but alternating the dose since my system didn't like the jump from 75mcg to 125mcg. I take 75 mcg on one day and 100 mcg on the next and so on. This has been going very well until now because I'm getting an increase in constipation. I'm away on holiday so I can't see my GP as I'm about 120 miles away, but I was advised to seek help if it continued.

Is it safe to increase my dose by myself? I'm not sure if the constipation is an indication that I'm not on enough thyroxine and I don't want to end up taking too much and going hyperT. I'm thinking of taking prune juice but I'm staying somewhere that doesn't have many shops that may stock it. There is a community hospital nearby but I'm not too keen on going there as it would appear on my medical records that I attended and my own doctor might question it when I next go to an appointment.

Can anyone advise?



63 Replies

  • Hi Jo, unsurprisingly I know exactly how you feel! I think I might be able to help though my housemate recommended psyllium husks to me when I told her I was constipated and now I add a spoon of the stuff into my food every day and I'm as regular as clockwork! I think it tells you to mix it with water on the instructions but it's foul and because it swells if you are not careful you'll end up choking on the stuff - I would recommend instead adding it to yoghurt/cream/ricotta with some fruit or lemon juice and letting it set because it will then swell up and it makes a tasty pudding! You could easily order a bag to take in holiday with you. I think waitrose sell it and so do myprotein.com . I hope this works for you too! Have a lovely holiday,


  • Hi Jess, thanks for the tip. We don't have a waitrose nearby but we do have one in Bristol, so when we come back it might be worth stocking up on that. Thanks

    Jo x

  • Next time your out shopping pick up some Magnesium from the Valupak range - normally about 99p, start off with one or even half twice a day - when you feel it's time, cut down to half a day. This vitamin should be in our fresh food but because the soil is

    so overworked it decreases with each crop.

    Any one who suffers constipation will think this is a wonder drug but it's one of them vitamins no body talks about.

    I hope this helps.

  • Thanks Dad72, will look into this. :)

  • Oh how I sympathise! I know when I am hypo because I get constipated. You don't say your age but I also found that since the menopause and not having the oestrogen, that can also cause constipation. Silly question, but are you drinking plenty of water? Might be an idea to pop into a chemist and get advice from a pharmacist - they can be very helpful.

  • Hi, I'm 28 yrs old. I have been drinking water regularly but since spending some time out and about its been hard to keep the routine going and so haven't been drinking as much.

    Thanks x

  • Magnesium is a good idea. Magnesium citrate I believe is what they use in hospitals to clear bowls before surgery, it also has the added benefit of converting t4 to t3. Take it with plenty of water.

    Good luck!

  • I agree that magnesium is a good idea. But better still, take it with cloudy apple juice, it is far more effective than prune juice or psyllium . If you are very constipated however, go to the local hospital as nothing much taken orally will make any difference. If it is more than 5 days since you passed anything, you need suppositories or an enema, then you can alter your diet. I personally wouldn't recommend increasing thyroxine to deal with this. By the way, I have worked as a nurse on a Gastronomy intestinal ward.

  • Hi marie,

    My constipation has gotten worse in the fact that I make three trips to the loo per day, I stain a lot more when it comes out as pellets and my stomach/pelvic area still cramps after I go.



  • Ok, is there a chemist nearby? You could try taking senokot tonight and inserting a glycerine suppository before going to bed. you can get both over the counter. If that fails you need medical attention

  • Hi, chemist was closed when I was out but I bought activia yoghurts with prunes in them. I'm still getting aches at the sides of my hips, but I went to an accident and emergency ward before with the same problem and the doctors didn't do anything about it. I haven't been to the loo since.


  • Hi yana,

    Just one question: is the magnesium in pill form or in powder?

    Thanks x

  • It's a powder that you add to water, so you can regulate the dose yourself depending on your needs.

    Good luck

  • Thanks yana. :)

  • I wouldn't worry about it showing on your medical record, in fact surely all the better to have everything documented as it paints a better history. Can you call and speak to your doctor on phone?

    I suffer with constipation a lot so I tend to take dulcolax when it gets really bad, but be warned can give awful stomach cramps. Otherwise what about lactulose or senna? These are what u have used in the past. Hoping that there are no adverse affects to these that I don't know about! Have a great hol x

  • Ask your GP for something else, it's AWFUL stuff, very crampy!

    I take opiates so constipation is something I constantly have to carefully manage - I find Dioctyl (Docusate sodium) MUCH better, has no crampy effect. You can get it over the counter at pharmacies too as one brand name or another -, it's cheap enough. I use Laxido too, although not so often. Fibogel/Psyllium is OK, but it needs to have A LOT of liquid to work well, and fpr that reason too much seems to occasionally have the OPPOSITE effect - reminiscent of setting cement! As to it being too strong, well, I don't think there is a LESS potent laxative, and upping fibre (which is all it is) is something everyone should think about!

    Lactulose is one of the most disgusting substances on the planet to taste; Senna, well - things have moved on from the distant dark days when that was all you could get... side effects, and you really should not take it for long either. Not recommended.

    As a good standby, I always have Glycerin (Glycerol) suppositories handy for one-off quick resolution of the problem ... not pleasant you might think, but usually very quick acting, cheap and easy to get. Once you have used them, and got such quick relief you will always keep some for emergency use!

    From the days when I could eat fruit without blood glucose problems (carbs, who needs them!) I found one of the best in this respect to be KIWI! 3 or 4 seems to work as well as any laxative! Why worry about finding prune juice, or any juice for that matter just eat canned prunes, available in any supermarket - the whole fruits have more fibre than any juice so work better too!

    Magnesium is probably a VERY good idea anyway, even apart form constipation issues, it is involved in T4 to T3 conversion too. Don't buy the cheap low strength supermarket (Mg Oxide) types, you hardly absorb any. Magnesium citrate is my preferred oral form, but I mainly use Mg Chloride transdermally.

  • HI picton, thanks for your reply.

    Taking suppositories might be worth a thought if they're effective. Magnesium seems to be a recurring theme in the answers, so I might consider it.

  • Hi, I could perhaps speak to my doctor on phone although I might not get a call back today as the receptionist might not think my problem is urgent enough. Are lactulose and senna easy to get hold of in a chemist?


  • If there is a health food shop where you are, I've been recommended linseed meal. It works very well and is Linseeds ground up! I put a dessert spoonful on cereal or in yogurt. You can also cook it in flapjacks etc.

    I used to have terrible constipation and I believe it was partly due to being undertreated with Levo. However, the comment about magnesium above is really interesting as I also take that now!!!


  • Thanks Mary.

    It's hard to know what's going on with me as it happens no matter what I eat.

    There is a Holland and Barrett nearby so I could always ask them if they stock linseed.

  • Yes linseed and flaxseed are very good in helping you to keep regular, I buy organic flaxseed from Sainsburys and sprinkle it on my cereal. There is nothing to beat a dietry intake of lots of veggies. all types and onions, eaten every day, not once a week but every day, also beetroot juice helps to loosen things up as well. People often say they eat healthily but when you really quiz them they often do not have as much vegetation in their diet as they say they do.

  • Thanks joyia! Linseed might be worth considering also. I did start a healthy diet where I ate veg and fruit and my stomach was still constipated for the whole week! I couldn't get off the loo. :(

  • poor you - know just how you feel. I use Fybogel (psyllium husks) I always add mine to fizzy water, it fizzes up to give you a drink like fizzy orange and is easy to get down. Not sure that is the recommended way but it works for me. Senna doesnt agree with me, it gives me stomached aches, have also had some sort of cellulose pills, huge bright pink things that you crunch and swallow and they leave your teeth pink afterwards, Fybogel mixed with fizzy water for me.

    I agree, I wouldn't worry about visiting another doctor, I'm sure it happens regularly, I can't see anyone bothering about that.

    Hope you feel better soon,


  • Fybogel works, but does contain Aspartame! Laxido is good, as an alternative.

  • Thanks Tegz. Will definitely look out for that - haven't heard of it before.My previous doctor's preferred med was the big pink pills - said she thought the Fybogel was a bit 'harsh'

  • I use Laxido... but Macrogols are no perfect product either.. lots' of bad write-ups too.... eg. gutsense.org/gutsense/the-r... and side effects (electrolyte imbalance fore example) still you have to use something if you have the problem, and they are more pleasant than some types in use!

  • Thanks for the heads up on more dodgy pharms :)

    I do only use 1/2 sachet, mostly, and not found any side effects to date.

    It is amazing that Docs just shove out the chemicals without a second look- but maybe they have no choice, either.

    Might just alternate Laxido with the Fybogel to play my best hand on this... but I certainly don't take all the time -as I know long term laxative use has its downside.

  • I went back to Fybogel last night and had a bad nights' sleep.

    Haven't used for a while but could feel the effect.[a bt like alcohol]

    I know the laxido has some suspect lineage in components- but for now prefer that.

    Water intake is also worth bearing in mind for bowel help - through the night in small amounts, if you wake up with adrenal surge at 4am etc.

    Too much will disturb your sleep with getting rid of it, but dehydration is where magnesium helps also. Again don't overdo it long term without tests and getting fibre.

  • Hi Liz,

    Well I only worried about seeing another doctor as the previous practice I was with got very funny about me visiting a walk-in centre and not them. My former doctor also ignored the letter the nurse practitioner sent them about doing more thyroid tests, also I don't want the other doctor to think I'm being a hypochondriac.

    Thanks. x

  • That is horrible, no wonder you felt worried about it. Hope you are feeling better now though.

    Liz x

  • Thanks Liz. I hope I feel better soon too. x

  • The walk in centres do seem to have a more open minded attitude compared with GPs -who box their patients up into categories, somewhat.

    You were lucky that they flagged Thyroid up- so keep pushing now you have 'mini lever' to pull on a system that only understands a rule book approach. in too many cases.

  • Hi Jo853,

    Constipation and bowel distress of every possible kind have been hallmarks of my hypothyroidism. However, things are so very much better now I am on around about enough thyroxine, and the dose split into twice per day which avoids the swing in thyroxine level caused by taking once per day.

    I wonder whether the holiday diet has contributed? Or you may be fighting a seasonal bug? Your alternating dose probably doesn't help, because your digestion will tend to be slower on the days with the lower thyroxine intake. You could try taking a half 100mcg AND a half 75mcg every day. Or you could ask for 25mcg tablets of a kind that can be halved, and have one such half AND a 75mcg every day. Either would help your metabolic rate and speed of digestion to be the same each day.

    Eventually, when you are settled on the right dose, bowels should be much happier.

    I was not able to tolerate any of the remedies recommended above! Before beginning with thyroxine, 20 years ago, I found linseeds did help, but soon after starting to take thyroxine I found I was less distressed without them. I was on an antispasmodic for 10 years -- to reduce painful spasm in the gut -- and this was essential at the time.

    I think there are several elements to bowel distress with hypothyroidism: slowness of digestion which can lead to sensitivities, lack of power to the gut muscle, and bloating. Only a fully adequate and consistent thyroxine dose can fix all of that. But I hope you quickly find a remedy that helps you enjoy your holiday.

    It is not safe to change your thyroxine dose without your doctor's advice.

  • Hi Helenabc,

    I've always had a leaning towards constipation, just not as frequent as it is now, which was what made me question the dosing my doctor has put me on. I know if I go back to my doctor or call them they would say for me to wait until the follow up appointment which isn't due until November.

    I've also lost weight again as well. I did weigh 8 stone but I'm now 7 stone 11. I worked so hard to achieve that despite me eating more. :(



  • Have tried most of the above, but I find a couple of dried figs and a glass of water and the next day, result! Its gentle on your stomach and natural. can get them in most supermarket. You may have to do this every day if constipation is bad until you get a result. Good Luck hope it does not spoil your holiday.

  • Thanks Wightmouse.

    The Lidl up by where we are might stock figs, provided we don't freeze on the way there!

  • Prunes: prune juice is, as you say, not sold everywhere. But prunes are. And plums usually have a similar effect. And its plum season! Hopefully you're on holiday in the UK somewhere - cos if you're on a Greek island all bets are off ... (although the diet there should keep you regular anyway!)

  • Thanks Humphrey.

    It would be nice if I were in Greece but alas I'm in Devon, mostly to detox but also as my boyfriend has not had a holiday since March. We stay near a Lidl so I'm pinning all my hopes on finding plums or prunes there when we go later.

  • They have fantastic soft dried Apricots too... also ideal....wish I could eat them now, but can't!

  • Oddly enough I have dried apricots at home. I go back home tomorrow so I'll try and get round to eating them. :)

  • Anyone taking the useful route of fruit additions ahould be careful not to take too much of the juice- if sugar or HFCS is a major component [likely].

    Magnesium is used up in processing sugar through the body, so hang onto it and also avoid those sugar rushes!

    Your body doesn't need sugar added like this, anyway..

  • Use Fybogel Natural Fibre Drink.....gives your stools body and dos't cause you any side affects or the sudden urge to run to the loo.Like prunes or prune juice would....being a long time suffer I can sympathise.....don't eat white bread or any thing with white floor....try not to let it go to long or you'll start up a vicious circule...good luck and have a good holiday.....and if your on any other medication look at he side effects...some cause constipation big time......

  • Thanks!

    The only meds I'm on is the thyroxine at 75 or 100 micrograms a day. It's quite hard not to eat stuff with white flour while I'm away as I'm at my boyfriend's mum's house and she' s doing the cooking so I don't want to be a nuisance. I've got Fybogel at home but it's not doing much good there and might be out of date, so I might get some more.

  • I have to take it at least 3 times a day to start me off ....so too speak....then just once a day to maintain it....good luck...

  • As soon as I read about the magnesium I ordered it from Holland and Barrett. I am also suffering badly at the moment and was considering upping my dose. I find the fibre products make me bloated and feel much worse. Does the magnesium help with weight loss?

  • My homeopath who is also hypo told me to take magnesium, she advised that the Levo strips the body of magnesium so u have to replace. I originally tried mag chloride but it tastes like seawater, so now I take mag citrate 'Dyno-mins' which are acid resistant so they get to where you want them to go. Might sound obvious but take before bed for relief in the morning. Magnesium also very good to help sleep apparently. I also have magnesium oil spray which you can rub into your tummy, both from Victoria Health online. My understanding is that most people would benefit from extra magnesium

  • Hi msglutenfreak, thanks for the tip.

    I have trouble swallowing still from what's left of the goitre so I'm just a bit unsure about taking pills or capsules of any sort. The levo itself is easy to take as it dissolves in my mouth, so I don't quite know how to take anything in pill or tablet form. If the magnesium is in powder form that's fine. :)

  • You can crunch up the Mag.Cit.tabs. They actually do get soggy with age- if you mature some :)

  • I've had this for years, just one of those things i have learned to live with.

    So.....Lactulose is disgusting, couldn't stand it.

    My GP said orange juice with bits in.....no effect

    Tried Dulcoease.....no effect

    Drinking lots and lots of water....no effect

    Fybogel....disgusting stuff couldn't tolerate it

    let me think what else have I tried?.....Oh yes Magesium, don't think this worked but I take it anyway to help with hypo.

    Fresh pineapple in large quantities once worked as a one off.

    The only thing I think works is Prune juice and the reason is this...the juice contains a nautural sugar product only found in prune juice (and chewing gum) called sorbitol apparently it draws water into the large intestine stimulating bowel movements, my experience it just made it softer easier to pass. Prune juice is not nice but I made it more palatable by adding a bit of lemonade. I know every shop where you can buy near my area, so if you can find a Tesco, Asda they stock their own and also Sunrasia is widely available but more expensive. This worked for a while with me and then i ran out one day and realised it didn't make that much difference. So if anyone find a magic cure for this bane of my life please please let me know cos I feel like I've explored all options now.

  • Thanks gillybean! We do have only a small Tesco down our way but there's a much bigger one a 10 minutes drive away so I know they must stock it.

  • They are £1 each or sometimes have an offer 3 for £2.50 they are with the cartons of unrefrigerated juices.....enjoy!!!

  • Maybe you're off Laxido? [see above]

  • Tegz I tried Laxido.....Got boxes of it if anyone wants it, dreadful stuff!!! You name it, I've tried it!

  • Psyillium husks from holland and barrat.... Works a treat!

  • Hi Jo,

    The number of replies that your query has prompted, just shows what a huge issue constipation is.

    I am like Gillybean129- I have tried everything over the years,over 40, lactulose, fybrobel , the list is endless. I have tried prunes, prune juice, figs (fresh and dried). I follow a high fibre diet and drink a lot. Something would work for a few days and then lose its effectiveness. It almost felt as if my bowels were saying "right we've got the hang of that, back to normal". It became worse over the last few years, possibly caused by the onset of hypothyroidism. I drank so much water that I was barely out of the loo!! Finally my doctor prescribed Movicol and the difference is amazing and long lasting. I feel so much better. I don't know if it is full of nasty stuff, but it has certainly got rid of all the nasty stuff that was in me. Best of luck, I hope you feel better soon

  • Hi Elaine, thanks for your answer.

    Yes, with me the water seemed to work and the bowel problems came back. I've bought some activia yoghurts with prunes in them so hopefully that might help. I've not tried prunes before so I don't want to end up buying one whole tin and not eat it!

    I was given movicol before for temporary constipation. This was prescribed for me before a thyroid diagnosis was made but I didn't use many to constitute a difference as later on that day the constipation/pelvic pain from it had gone! Typical!

    Jo xx

  • Also too much VitC can cause loose bowel movements - don't think anyone has mentioned it ! You can't overdose on VitC.....maybe worth a try ! Hope you are soon feeling better....

  • Popular topic!lol.(not funny being bunged up;just amount of responses).i only get it occasionally(usually when have pmt).last remedy i tried that worked well was dried figs;put about 4/5 in bowl of water overnight;they will be plump in morn; when u eat em;not the most appetizing looking n consistency(wont say what they remind me of!!)but works!

  • I find that with magnesium you don't have cramps like with most. Like most here I've been to drs and was on lactulose for a long time (didn't work to well) but I haven't looked back since switching to a more natural resource the body needs.

    They normally come in a very light purple and white plastic container with 30 tablets in, the brand is VALUPAK normally about 99p - so if you find some pick a few up. On eBay they usually go for £2 but charge the same in postage so I don't recommend buying from their Amazon is a bit cheaper but I would ask your local chemist or look in your local supermarket first :-

    Do a quick search for ( magnesium and bowel health ) some interesting reading even if anybody just wants to add it as a supplement.

    If any body has kidney problems or takes Diuretics! Chemotherapy agents, Certain antibiotics it says to ask your Dr first also if pregnant best to discuss with Dr first

  • Hi,

    I'm hypo as well, on a 100 mcg Levo, my GP says my dose is right, but I'm still tired and bunged up. I don't go everyday, I'm slightly better than I was but still have a big bloated tummy,, always had problems but tummy is bigger now than ever ! I have some Magnesuim pills in cupboard so I think I will try them. Trying to get my dose tweaked but GP won't do it ! :(

  • I might try some different Magesium, which is the best type to use, see how desperate we all are it's awful, oh, to be 'normal' like everyone else and not have issues

  • hi interesting reading all the advice, each person finds their own solution. Obviously a good diet and exercise are the first most important things to achieve. I am on 100 mcg levo and have had similar probs to you all. Been in hosp with fissures treated with botox due to this horrible prob. Now have it all under control using movicol one sachet at bedtime and go once first thing in the morning. I asked the doctor about these meds and he said they just add water to your system, I now manage this and feel so much better.

  • Hi, It's interesting seeing all the responses to this! I have been on levothyroxine 100mcg for a few years. After the first year I started taking magnesium citrate (the citrate is the best and quickest for the body to absorb), I buy mine from Holland & Barratt's and I found it to be a god send for all my severe aches and pains.. it got rid of all the pain. Recently, I haven't taken the magnesium citrate for a few months and I've never been aware that it helps with constipation, until reading a few of the comments above! Just over a week ago, I was visiting a friend when I got terrible back pain, started low down and rapidly the pain got higher up. I told my friend the back pain was bad and I would have to go home, but as I was leaving the pain traveled round to my front below my ribs. I knew I couldn't make it any further and asked my friend to call an ambulance. I was in total agony, couldn't stand, sit or be in any position which didn't make it worse. An ambulance car arrived first, but only to assess if I was an emergency, then an ambulance with three paramedics. My friend got in the ambulance with me. The ambulance was then parked outside her home which the paramedics asked question after question for 20+ minutes. After ten minutes, my friend argued with the paramedics telling them I was in agony and couldn't one of them drive to the hospital while the other two asked the questions! They only got very annoyed with my friend, but she was right, and I was so relieved when we finally got to the hospital and I felt much more comfortable on the hospital stretcher. In the end, the doctor was very nice at the hospital and said he thinks it was bowel spasms and gave me lactulose and said I could take the 3 5ml spoonfuls like it says on the bottle, but it probably won't do much good.. or you could just drink half the bottle and buy more at the chemist.

    Now that my bowels are almost normal again and after reading the above comments, I will definitely never stop taking my magnesium citrate again

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