Constipation is the most common side effect of sucralfate (Carafate). A person can take steps to ease this side effect, such as remaining hydrated and taking stool softeners.

Sucralfate (Carafate) is an anti-ulcer medication. It works by forming a thick, protective coating over the gastric mucosa.

The binding action of sucralfate can cause constipation. Sucralfate also contains aluminum, which may lead to constipation.

This article will discuss sucralfate and constipation and the steps a person can take to ease this side effect.

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Constipation is one of the side effects of sucralfate.

Constipation symptoms include:

  • fewer than three bowel movements in one week
  • a feeling that bowel emptying has not been achieved
  • lumpy, dry, or hard stools
  • difficulty or pain while passing stool

Can sucralfate cause bowel blockage?

Sucralfate can cause a type of bowel blockage known as a gastric bezoar formation. This is a densely packed mass of indigestible material.

Bezoar symptoms include:

There are several types of bezoars, which doctors categorize by the type of material they contain.

Sucralfate is typically involved in pharmacobezoars, which feature tablets that do not properly dissolve in the gastrointestinal tract, and some types of liquid medication.

Bezoar formation is uncommon, with an estimated prevalence of about 0.4% for all types.

Doctors can treat bezoars with medications, endoscopic surgery, or open surgery.

Constipation is the most common side effect of this medication. Approximately 1% to 10% of people who use sucralfate experience constipation.

A person may be more likely to experience constipation if they are:

The duration of sucralfate side effects varies between people. Sometimes, a side effect can resolve during treatment as a person’s body adjusts to the medication.

Sucralfate treatment involves regular medication doses during the healing process. It may take as long as 8 weeks for a person’s ulcer to heal using sucralfate.

Probiotics may help to alleviate medication-induced constipation. Researchers in a 2024 study examined the effects of a probiotic — Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus VHProbi M15 — on sucralfate-induced constipation in mice.

They found that the probiotic alleviated constipation by improving intestinal emptying and modulating the population of gut bacteria.

Increasing fiber intake is usually an effective method to ease constipation. Other ways to ease constipation include:

  • adequate hydration
  • regular physical activity
  • medications, such as osmotic agents, stool softeners, stimulants, and lubricants
  • attempts to pass stool when the urge is felt, rather than delaying and holding stool

Establishing a regular bathroom schedule, a practice known as bowel training, may also help.

If constipation from sucralfate is severe or ongoing, a person should contact their doctor.

Certain symptoms that require a medical evaluation may accompany constipation. They include:

If anyone experiences symptoms of an allergic reaction or overdose when taking sucralfate, they should seek prompt medical care.

Allergy symptoms include:

Overdose symptoms include:

Side effects of sucralfate include:

The following are three frequently asked questions about sucralfate.

What is the most common side effect of sucralfate?

Constipation is the side effect that occurs the most often from sucralfate use.

What should you avoid when taking sucralfate?

Certain medications may not work as well if a person takes them with sucralfate. Some examples include naproxen (Aleve), deferasirox (Exjade, Asunra, Oleptiss), baloxavir (Xofluza), levoketoconazole (Recorlev), and potassium phosphate.

Multivitamins and antacids can also change the action of sucralfate.

Anyone taking another medication can talk with their doctor or pharmacist about potential interactions with sucralfate. Leaving a two-hour gap between doses of sucralfate and other medications may help.

What happens when you eat after taking sucralfate?

Food can reduce the efficacy of sucralfate. When a person eats after taking a dose of sucralfate, this may prevent the medication from properly coating their ulcer.

Taking sucralfate one hour before meals or two hours after can reduce the chance of adverse food-drug interactions.

Constipation is the most common side effect of sucralfate.

Sucralfate is a medication for the treatment of ulcers. It works by creating a protective film over the damaged tissue to protect it from gastric juices so it can heal.

If self-management strategies such as exercise, hydration, and over-the-counter medications are not effective, a person should consult their doctor for treatment.