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What to know about Vyvanse and constipation

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Vyvanse and constipationOther side effectsConstipation treatmentsVyvanse alternativesSummary
Constipation is a common side effect for people taking Vyvanse for the treatment of binge eating disorder, but not those taking it to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Medically reviewed by Alexandra Perez, PharmD, MBA, BCGP
Written by Uxshely Carcamo
Updated on November 6, 2023

Vyvanse is the brand name for the medication lisdexamfetamine dimesylate. This drug is a type of medication called amphetamine, which is a type of stimulant.

These types of medications increase the levels of the chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine in the body. They can help with concentration, thinking, and managing impulsive behaviors like those seen with binge eating disorder.

So, Vyvanse is a prescription medication that doctors use to treat:

  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children over ages 6 years and adults
  • moderate to severe binge eating disorder (BED) in adults

However, Vyvanse can cause a range of side effects depending on its uses, including constipation if you have BED. But there are ways to manage constipation, along with alternatives to Vyvanse if it isn’t working for you.

Vyvanse and constipation

A person spreading some butter on to bread, which can help if you experience constipation due to Vyvanse.
Photography by Oscar Wong/Stocksy United

Vyvanse may cause constipation in some people. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists constipation as a common side effect for people taking it to treat BED, but it also notes that no single side effect, including constipation, was severe enough to lead people to stop taking the medication.

However, for those taking the medication for ADHD, the FDA suggests that diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are more common digestive side effects.

Other side effects

The side effects of Vyvanse often depend on the condition the doctor is treating. When the doctors prescribe it for ADHD, the side effects include:

  • loss of appetite or decreased appetite
  • dry mouth
  • issues with sleep
  • stomach pain
  • anxiety
  • weight loss
  • dizziness
  • irritability

The side effects of Vyvanse for treating BED include:

  • dry mouth
  • decreased appetite
  • anxiety
  • issues with sleep
  • feeling jittery
  • increased heart rate.

While serious side effects from the medication are not common, the Vyvanse medication guide lists possible serious side effects of taking the medication, such as:

  • serious heart-related problems like stroke and heart attacks
  • mental health issues like hearing voices, hallucinations, or the development or worsening of bipolar illness
  • slowing of growth (both weight and height) in children
  • circulation issues in fingers and toes
  • serotonin syndrome (a condition where your body has too much serotonin, which causes symptoms like shivering, diarrhea, fever, or seizures and can be life threatening)

You can minimize the risk of side effects by telling your doctor about all other medications you are taking and only taking Vyvanse as per their recommendation.

FDA has issued a black box warning that people taking Vyvnase may be at risk of becoming dependent on it or taking too much. You should only take the medication as per the doctor’s recommendation and ensure that you are having regular checkups when taking Vyvnase.

Constipation treatments

You can do several things to manage the constipation that Vyvnase may be causing. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH) says that some lifestyle changes can help treat and manage constipation, which include:

  • eating a balanced diet
  • getting enough fiber in your food (from vegetables, fruits, and legumes)
  • drinking plenty of water
  • getting regular physical activity
  • aiming to have a bowel movement at the same time each day

The NIH advises that certain medications may help with constipation, including:

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications:

  • fiber supplements, such as Citrucel or FiberCon
  • stool softeners, such as Docusate or Colace
  • osmotic agents (which help the stool hold on to water) like MiraLAX or Milk of Magnesia
  • stimulants (which cause your intestines to contract) like Correctol or Dulcolax (you should take these only if other treatments don’t work or your constipation has become severe)
  • lubricants like mineral oil (Fleet)

If you end up taking laxatives for a long time and find it difficult to have a bowel movement without taking a laxative, speak with a healthcare professional. It is important that your body doesn’t start to rely on laxatives for you to be able to pass stools.

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Prescription medications:

  • lubiprostone (Amitiza) can increase fluid in your bowels and make your stools softer
  • plecanatide (Trulance) or linaclotide (Linzess) can help make bowel movements more regular for people who have irritable bowel syndrome
  • prucalopride (Motegrity) helps in the smooth movement of stool through your colon

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Vyvanse alternatives

If you believe that Vyvnase is causing constipation, you may want to find other medication options with your doctor.

Experts suggest that other medications that can help with BED include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Examples include fluoxetine (Prozac) or sertraline (Zoloft), which doctors prescribe for treating depression, but they can also help with binge eating disorders. Some SSRIs may cause constipation. Some older 2008 research suggests that paroxetine (Paxil) is the antidepressant most likely to cause constipation as a side effect.
  • Medications for treating epilepsy: Examples include topiramate (Topamax). Researchers don’t list constipation as a common side effect of topiramate.
  • Other medications that help treat ADHD: Examples include methylphenidate (Ritalin). There are no reports of constipation as the common side effect of methylphenidate.

Doctors recommend talk therapy as another treatment option for BED.

According to experts, other medications for treating ADHD include:

  • Other stimulants: Examples include dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) or methylphenidate (Ritalin and Daytrana). Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting are more common side effects of these medications than constipation.
  • Nonstimulants: These may include antidepressants such as atomoxetine (Strattera) or an alpha agonist (that stimulates receptors in certain parts of the brain) like clonidine (Catapres) or guanfacine (Intuniv). Atomoxetine does not usually cause constipation as a side effect. However, a recent study suggests that clonidine may cause constipation.

Summary

Constipation is a common side effect for people taking Vyvanse for the treatment of binge eating disorder. Those taking the medication for ADHD may be more likely to experience diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.

If Vyvnase is causing you to become constipated, you could add more fiber to your diet, try to stay active and hydrated, and explore some over-the-counter or prescription medications. You can speak with a doctor about alternative medication options to treat ADHD and binge eating disorder.

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