Stool softeners or Laxatives for constipation, What to consider and how long they last; are some general queries, people normally have. So here we have discussed stool softener Vs Laxatives and different fast acting laxatives to soften hard stool and treat constipation. You also read our previous post on best stool softener for daily use for more detail on some natural relievers for constipation and hard stool.
Both laxatives and stool softeners are used to treat constipation and hard stool symptoms. Constipation is a widespread problem nowadays, and it usually means your bowel movements are tough and infrequent. The stool is usually very hard and dry. It might not be a very serious problem, but it can cause serious discomfort for days.
The rate of constipation in adults varies from three times per day to two-three times per week. Constipation can occur from a variety of cause, the most common of which is the slow passage of digestive food through any part of the digestive system. Constipation is the root cause of many diseases like piles, hemorrhoids, fistula, fissures and rectal prolapse.
Some of the medications which cause constipation are narcotic pain medicines, anti-depressants, and iron supplements. Frequently suppressing the urge to defecate can also result in constipation. Hormones can also affect bowel movements, like high levels of estrogen and progesterone, are produced during pregnancy.
Symptoms Of Constipation
Some signs and symptoms of chronic constipation include passing stool less than three times a week, strain to have bowel movements, feeling as though you are unable to empty the stool from your rectum, or even needing help to empty your rectum-such as using your hands to press on the abdomen or using a finger to remove stool from the rectum.
You should immediately contact your doctor if you experience persistent problems or changes in your bowel habits. Also, constipation may be considered chronic if you have been experiencing two or more of these symptoms for the last two-three months.
- 1 Stool Softener Vs Laxative
- 2 5 Types of Fast Acting Laxatives For Constipation
Stool Softener Vs Laxative
During constipation, to help with the passing tool, you might take help of a laxative or a stool softener. A laxative is a substance which will aid you in constipation by helping you have bowel movements.
On the other hand, a stool-softener acts on the mass of the stool itself and softens it, thereby aiding in the passage of the stool. They are also called “emollient laxatives.”
So, all stool-softeners are laxatives, but all laxatives are not stool softeners.
Although different laxatives are used to treat constipation, some of them may be a better choice for you. Stool softeners are preferred if you are pregnant, recently had surgery, or have some digestive disease. Some popular stool softener brands include Miralax, Stool Softener Dulcolax, and Stool Softener Colace; which are also a kind of laxatives.
Some Common Queries Regarding Stool Softeners And Laxatives
Can I Use Stool Softener and Laxative Combination?
No, you should not in general. As stated already, every stool softeners is a kind of laxatives (emollient laxative) that will help you with constipation and hard stool. Taking a stool softener and laxative combination might get you in trouble with its side effects.
Can You Take Dulcolax Laxative And Stool Softener Together?
No, you should not take Dulcolax Laxative and stool softener together at the same time, as the same aforesaid reason. However, you can take them on alternate days, but that too not regularly.
What To Use: Stool Softener Or Laxative For Constipation?
It depends on the severity of a situation. Whether you have a mild occasional constipation or chronic constipation. Laxatives should be preferred as a solution for chronic constipation only.
Why Any Laxatives And Stool Softeners Not Working For Me?
There could be many situations when these laxatives and stool softeners might not work for you, maybe as a result of some side effects from other medicines or maybe you need some get diagnosed.
Do Stool Softeners Interact With Medications?
Yes, stool softeners do interact with other medicines so it is better to consult your doctor before taking a combination of such medications.
5 Types of Fast Acting Laxatives For Constipation
Here we have discussed five different laxative types with examples. It is recommended to go through the detail before taking any laxatives because these have side effects too. These fast acting laxatives are enough to soften your stool so that you can poop out without applying extra effort. These laxatives are also great solution for those whose poop stuck halfway out, mostly. Stimulant laxatives and saline laxatives are the fastest laxatives for constipation.
1. Emollient Laxatives/Stool-Softeners
These are used temporarily to relieve constipation in people who want to get relief from strain during bowel movements, due to various reasons like heart conditions, hemorrhoids, and other problems. They soften the stool, making them easier to pass.
These laxatives come in the form of laxative pills, capsules, tablets, liquids or syrups to take by mouth, and these are usually taken at bedtime.
Before taking stool-softeners, you should tell your doctor or pharmacologist if you are allergic to any drugs, or about any prescribed or non-prescribed medications you might be taking. Most stool-softeners take 2-3 days to be effective.
Emollient Laxatives Drugs Examples: Colace, Docusate
2. Bulk-Forming Laxative
These laxatives form a gel in your stool, and thereby help in holding more water in your stool. The stool eventually gets bigger, which causes movements in the intestine, and help the stool to pass quickly. Psyllium, one type of bulk-forming laxative has been used with a proper diet to treat high cholesterol.
These laxatives are taken orally, with water or other liquids. Many bulk-forming laxatives contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions and other problems. So, it is important to consult your doctor if you notice any allergy.
Caution is advised if you have diabetes or other medical conditions.
Bulk-Forming Laxative Examples: Polycarbophil Calcium, Psyllium
3. Hyper Osmotic Laxative
The active ingredients of this group of laxatives are polyethylene glycol and glycerin. These help in drawing more water to the intestines, which in turn help in softening the stool, and in bowel movements.
These laxatives avoid or relieve constipation with proper diet (high fiber content, adequate fluid intake). These should be avoided in case of infants. Some of the hyperosmotic laxatives are taken orally or through the rectum to facilitate the passing of certain type of resins through the intestinal tract, or aid in potassium removal. These are not used for long-term of repeated correction of constipation.
Hyperosmotic Laxative Drugs Examples: Milk of Magnesia or MOM, Kristalose, Fleet Phospho-Soda, and Miralax
4. Stimulant Laxative
The active components in these laxatives vary from Bisacodyl to sodium bicarbonate to senna compounds. Castor oil is also an important active ingredient. These laxatives work by inducing muscle movements in the colon.
They work in the exact opposite way of stool-softeners. You should check with your physician before taking stimulant laxatives.
These laxatives induce bowel movements in the morning. Sometimes, side effects might occur, like abnormal abdominal pain. Some reports even suggest allergic reactions, which abuse of these laxatives can lead to liver damage. However, if you follow the instructions carefully, they are good for short-term use.
Stimulant Laxative Examples: Aloe, Bisacodyl (Dulcolax, Correctol), Cascara, Castor Oil, Senna Compounds
5. Saline laxative
Even though these laxatives drugs are quite effective in treating constipation, however for treatment of occasional constipation, milder products like stool-softeners should be preferred.
Before taking this laxative; it may be chilled in the refrigerator for improving its taste. Later, it should be consumed with 8 ounces of any liquid. However, these laxatives are not at all safe for long-term use.
Saline Laxatives Examples: Magnesium Citrate, Fleet Phospho-Soda, Milk of Magnesia, Dibasic Sodium Phosphate, Monobasic Sodium Phosphate liquid
Laxatives Side effects, Dosage And Laxative Abuse
Loss of bowel function might occur. Milder saline laxatives are given to patients who are pregnant.One of the main functions of these laxatives is bowel cleansing. However; individuals with impaired kidney functions should not use laxatives containing magnesium or phosphate salts.
It is very important for you to follow the instructions given by a health-care provider, and those supplied by the product-manufacturer while taking the laxatives. You must remember that most of these laxatives are intended for short-term use, and you should never exceed the dosage prescribed on the label.
With the most type of laxatives, it is important to consume at least 6-8 cups (250 mL) of liquids every day, plus an additional glass with every dose of laxative taken. The laxative often draws fluid into the digestive system to soften the stool and passes it out with bowel movements.
So, plenty of fluids should be taken so that dehydration does not occur. Now you will not experience any trouble when you go toilet every morning. Laxatives are the one-stop solution to get rid of constipation, but it is essential to follow the instructions before taking.
Laxatives Side effects
The most common ill-effects of laxatives include bloating, gas and abdominal pain. Some infrequent effects of taking laxative pills include burping, diarrhea, and nausea. Some rare side effects include abnormal urine color, condition with muscle pain, low amount of potassium in the blood, discoloration of the lining of the colon, general ill-health, rashes, softening of bones, and elevation of proteins in the urine and so on. You should consult your doctor right away if you notice any changes. Also, seek immediate medical help if you notice any serious allergic reaction.
Laxative abuse occurs when a person takes higher or more doses of a laxative than are prescribed by the doctor or manufacturer. Abusing of laxatives is pretty dangerous and can result in life-threatening serious conditions like -severe dehydration, internal organ damage, increased colon cancer risk, chronic constipation, electrolyte, and mineral imbalance. Some people believe laxatives can aid in weight-loss. However, research has shown that laxatives are not at all effective in Weight-loss and can be dangerous if used for this technique. Before giving laxatives to your pets or children, you should always consult your doctor.
Although laxatives and stool-softeners can aid in handling constipation problems effectively, however, the perfect laxatives home remedies would be changes in your diet and lifestyle, you can get rid of this problem forever. The first and foremost thing is to quit skipping meals-since going without food will not stimulate the reflex which causes the food to move forward in the gut. Yoga and exercises are the best natural laxatives that you can include in your daily routine and the plus point is that, it has no side effects at all.
The next thing is, to increase your fiber intake. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water daily can help soften the stool. Also, scheduling your toilet-time, when the bowels will be ready to expel the stool-is effective. Above all, maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as exercising regularly will keep you healthy and glowing.
A Professional Naturopath, Yoga Teacher & Therapist at Arogya Yogshala Dhanbad. I have studied in Uttrakhand Sanskrit University and have been teaching Yoga and Naturopathy for the last 6 years. I believe nature has a cure for everything and Yoga means addition – the addition of energy, strength, and beauty to body, mind and soul. I love to share health facts, natural home remedies and best yoga asanas that can make your life easier and happier.