Common Otc Stimulant Laxatives
A visit to your local drugstore will show you that there are many different brands of stimulant laxatives available. These products come in a variety of forms, including tablets, liquids, and suppositories. The active ingredient in these products differ and here are the more common options:
- Bisacodyl: Alophen, Carters Little Pills, Correctol, Dulcolax, Ex-lax Ultra, Feen-A-Mint, Fleet Bisacodyl
- Sodium picosulfate: Dulcolax Pico, Dulcolax Perles
- Sodium bicarbonate and potassium bitartrate: Ceo-Two Evacuant suppository
- Senna: Black Draught, ExLax, Fletcher’s, Senexon, SennaGen, and Senokot. Also found in herbal stimulant laxatives.
After an extensive research review, the American College of Gastroenterology recommends sodium picosulfate and bisacodyl. They decline to recommend any other types due to lack of sufficient research.
Summary: The Best Laxatives For Constipation
Laxatives are an important and effective treatment option for those suffering from constipation.
However, its important to recognize potential harms and safety practices as they are typically not intended for ongoing use. Always speak with your doctor first.
Start with bulk-forming laxatives like psyllium husk fiber to bulk and soften stool in cases of mild constipation. If this doesnt work, seek more aggressive treatments, like polyethylene glycol , which is safe for daily use.
Improving your diet and lifestyle by eating fiber-rich foods, staying hydrated, exercising regularly and taking probiotics are also important ways to prevent and treat chronic constipation.
With the right treatment you can get back to feeling like your old self once more.
About Erin Peisach
Erin Peisach, RDN, CLT attended the University of Maryland, College Park for her Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics. She is now the owner of Nutrition by Erin, a San Diego-based virtual nutrition private practice specializing in gastrointestinal disorders.
Learn more about her on the About page.
Joe Leech, Dietitian
What Counts As Constipation Anyway
Its a myth that a daily bowel movement is essential to good health, Wald says. But having fewer than three bowel movements per week, excessive straining, a sense of not being finished, or having hard, lumpy stools are signals you may have constipation.
About 15 percent of Americans suffer from the condition for months and even years, studies show. Women are three times as likely as men to experience constipation, and seniors are also at high risk.
Occasional constipation is quite common, says Brian Lacy, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and co-editor in chief of The American Journal of Gastroenterology. Many patients note a change in their usual bowel habits when they change their daily routine, travel, change their diet , or reduce their level of activity.
But for some people the condition becomes chronic, with uncomfortable symptoms lasting three months or longer.
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How And When To Take Laxatives
How you take a laxative depends on the form it comes in. Ask a pharmacist if you’re not sure how to take your laxative.
They’re commonly available as:
- tablets or capsules you swallow
- sachets of powder you mix with water and drink
- a capsule you place inside your bottom where it dissolves
- liquids or gels you place directly into your bottom
Some laxatives have to be taken at certain times of the day, such as first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
If you’re taking bulk-forming or osmotic laxatives, drink plenty of fluids. These laxatives can cause dehydration.
Some laxatives can be taken long-term while some are only suitable for short-term use. Never take laxatives for longer than the recommended time.
Never take more than the recommended dose of laxatives as this can be harmful and cause side effects.
If your constipation has not improved after taking laxatives for a week, speak to your GP.
When Should I Call My Doctor
If you have any of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor before using an OTC laxative:
- Sudden change in your bowel habits that lasts 2 weeks or longer
- Black or dark-colored stool
Stop taking laxatives and call your doctor if you have any bleeding from your rectum. Also call your doctor if you dont have a bowel movement after using a laxative. These could be signs of a more serious problem.
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Herbal Colon Detox And Laxative Supplement
This is a system that will allow you to detoxify your body entirely and to cleanse your colon at the same time. Even if you have a regular bowel movement, it is a well-known fact that your colon can accumulate hardened stool that in time could irritate its mucosa thus leading to abdominal pain and bloating.
This formula that comprises of eight natural ingredients, carefully selected by a team of scientists, and which includes Aloe, probiotics, and Senna, helps lubricate your large intestine and to propel the bits of stool that are embedded on its surface.
You get the desired results in one or two days, but it can take up to fifteen whole days for a complete detoxifying cycle. At the end of your first detox session, you will feel much lighter and cleaner inside and out.
The risks of this product are almost none, but you need to be careful and to pay extra attention to your stool. If you see blood in it, or if youre developing diarrhea even a few days after youve stopped taking the supplement, make sure to contact your doctor. Moreover, some people also complained that they developed cramps and nausea when they took the product for too long.
This product is designed as a colon cleansing supplement, even for those of us that have normal, regular bowel movement.
It is a widely known fact that the colon can accumulate toxins and stool particles, that over time may lead to irritated colon, abdominal pain, and bloating.
Dulcoease Soft Gel Capsules: Best Gentle Laxative Capsules To Take When Travelling
Price: £4.30 | Buy now from Boots
Travelling can play havoc with your regularity, especially when planes, time zones and medication are involved. The best laxative to pack in your luggage is a gentle stool-softening capsule such as DulcoEase. It wont give you tummy cramps or spill or require making up with water . Instead, it works gently but effectively to soften up the contents of your gut by increasing their absorption of fluids, working over a couple of days to make it much easier to go to the loo.
Key specs Size: 30 capsules Laxative type: Stool softener Active ingredient: Docusate sodium, 100mg per capsule
Price: £17 |
Lack of fibre is a chief cause of bowel irregularity, so constipation can be a real problem when youre trying to follow a low-carb high-protein diet . Rather than try to down six lettuces a night, mix up a Fybogel drink instead. Fybogel Orange is made from ispaghula husk, a natural gluten-free concentrated fibre that helps your digestive system work more efficiently. Its really effective but also gentle, relieving constipation without discomfort or the need to suddenly go at inconvenient moments.
Key specs Size: x90 Laxative type: Bulk-forming Active ingredient: Ispaghula husk
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Complications Of Chronic Constipation
Some of the complications of chronic constipation include:
- Faecal impaction the lower bowel and rectum become so packed with faeces that the muscles of the bowels cant push any of it out.
- Faecal incontinence an overfull bowel can result in involuntary dribbling of diarrhoea.
- Haemorrhoids constant straining to open the bowel can damage the blood vessels of the rectum.
- Urinary incontinence the constant straining weakens pelvic floor muscles. This makes the involuntary passing of urine more likely, especially when coughing, laughing or sneezing.
Pros And Precautions For Using Lubricant Laxatives
Mineral oil coats and softens the stool. Like stool softeners, mineral oil is used by patients who need to avoid straining .
What are the precautions for using lubricant laxatives?
- Mineral oil should be avoided in individuals taking blood thinners, such as warfarin . Mineral oil decreases the absorption of vitamin K from the intestines. The decreased absorption of vitamin K in patients taking warfarin can potentially lead to “over-thinning” of the blood and increase the risk of excessive bleeding.
- Mineral oil should not be taken during pregnancy since it may inhibit vitamin absorption and decrease the availability of vitamin K to the fetus.
- Mineral oil can cause pneumonia if it leaks into the lungs. The leakage of secretions and other contents from the mouth and the esophagus into the lungs is called aspiration. Certain individuals are prone to aspirate, especially while lying down. Therefore, mineral oil should not be given at bedtime or to individuals who are prone to aspirate.
- Mineral oil should only be used for short periods. Significant absorption of mineral oil into the body can occur if used repeatedly over prolonged periods.
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Try A Different Opioid
All opioids can cause constipation, but some may have less of an effect than others. Some studies have found that fentanyl may cause less constipation than morphine. Tapentadol may also be easier on your intestines than oxycodone. Methadone may also be less constipating.
Talk to your doctor about which drugs will give you the right balance of pain relief and fewer side effects.
Other Tips To Prevent Constipation
The best way to deal with constipation is to not get it in the first place eat fiber, exercise and drink water galore!
Dont postpone your visits to the toilet. When nature calls, obey. Delaying defecation interrupts your bowel function and can lead to constipation.
Avoid drinks that cause dehydration .
Establish a routine. If you usually do a poop in the morning, make sure you have enough time and you dont need to rush.
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Eat Foods High In Fiber
You are what you eat isnt just a common saying. It can help you focus on eating the right types of foods that are high in fiber and plant-based so you feel well, says Dr. Garg.
What you eat can affect your bowel habits, your gut microbiome and how you feel in general.
Adding high-fiber foods to your diet can help regulate your bowel movements by bulking up your stool and helping it move through your intestines faster.
These foods are high in fiber:
- Whole-wheat pasta.
How Do I Safely Take Otc Laxatives
Before you take an OTC laxative, read the directions on the drug facts label. This will tell you how much medicine to take and how often to take it. If you have any questions about how much medicine to take, call your family doctor or pharmacist. Keep a record of the OTC medicines you are using and when you take them. If you need to go to the doctor, take this list with you.
Follow these tips to make sure you are taking the right amount of an OTC laxative:
- Take only the amount recommended on the medicines label. Dont assume that more medicine will work better or quicker. Taking more than the recommended amount can be dangerous.
- If you are taking a prescription medicine, ask your doctor if its okay to also take an OTC laxative.
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Recommendations On Safe Laxative Use
Safe laxative practices are important to avoid potential harms.
First, always follow the advice of your medical professional regarding product type, dosing and duration. Most laxatives are not intended for long-term use.
Laxatives are generally safe for people over the age of 12, but be sure to avoid certain laxatives not intended for specific populations .
Be sure to use laxatives with at least six to eight cups of additional water to avoid dehydration.
Summary: Use laxatives as instructed and stay adequately hydrated.
When To Speak With A Doctor
OTC laxatives are generally safe and effective in treating constipation, including constipation caused by certain medications. However, it is best to speak with a doctor to check for any underlying causes. A person should always follow instructions and read the medication label for proper directions.
Overuse can cause the colon to stop responding to the usual dose and require larger doses to get the same effects, leading to dependence. Laxative abuse can also cause the intestines to lose nerve and muscle response, resulting in dependency.
A person should visit a healthcare professional if they notice any of the
- Argoff, C. E., . Opioid-induced constipation: A review of health-related quality of life, patient burden, practical clinical considerations, and the impact of peripherally acting -opioid receptor antagonists.
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Stress Management For Ibs
Studies have shown that reducing tension or worry can improve IBS symptoms.
You can reduce stress in many ways. Regular exercise effectively lowers stress. So do yoga and meditation. You can also ease pressure through simple activities such as getting a massage, listening to music, taking a bath, or even reading a good book.
Another stress-busting technique is behavioral therapy. This approach teaches you how to change the way your mind and body react to events. It can include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, hypnosis, biofeedback, and relaxation therapy. Most of these therapies help people avoid overreacting to stressful situations and people. The American College of Gastroenterologists says behavioral therapy can work well for many IBS symptoms.
Detox 535 South African Cape Aloe Ferox Pills
This potential buy is something that does its job from the first tablet that you ingest. Just take one or two, and you will feel its effect almost instantly. It only contains the pulp of the Aloe plant, so the taste will feel natural and not bitter as products that use the leaves of the plant taste.
Its an organic supplement which gives you a helping hand with constipation, and that will reduce the tension in your bowels, thus eliminating the pain you feel when you dont go to the toilet for many hours in a row. It also contains no gluten or pesticides, and all the ingredients are GMO-free.
This medicines capsules are made of gelatin, and all the colorants are just as natural as the product itself. If you suffer from constipation, recurrent or not, this item should not miss from your medicine cabinet. It is especially handy during the holidays when we tend to overeat and when our digestive system is a bit lazier than usual.
You can avoid ingesting heavy chemicals and drugs that come with an endless list of side effects with this natural option. It is something to take into consideration.
This product gets the job done as soon as you take the first pill as it contains just the Aloe plant pulp, unlike other products that contain the leaves.
This tasty organic supplement helps reduce tension in your bowels and ease the associated pain, due to its all-natural ingredients that do not contain any gluten nor pesticides, and that are GMO-free.
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Should I Use A Laxative To Treat Constipation
Most of the time, constipation doesnt require treatment with laxatives. It will usually go away on its own. Or you can make changes in your diet and other habits. You can prevent or treat constipation by:
- Eating foods rich in soluble and insoluble fiber
- Drinking enough fluids
- Getting enough exercise
You may try all of these things and still be constipated. That is when taking a laxative may help you.
How Do Laxatives Work
There are several different kinds of laxatives. Each one works a different way. These are the most common types.
These laxatives add soluble fiber to the stool. This causes the stool to absorb more water. It creates larger, softer stools. The larger stools help trigger the bowel to contract. This moves the stools out. Bulk-forming laxatives generally are the safest type of laxative.
Examples of bulk-forming laxatives include:
To reduce your risk of side effects, you should start slowly. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids while taking bulk-forming laxatives. Gradually increase how much you use until you get the results you want.
These help mix fluid into stools to soften them. This makes stools easier to pass out of the body. An example of a stool softener is docusate .
These cause the intestine to hold more fluid. This softens stools and helps the bowel move them out. Examples include polyethylene glycol and magnesium hydroxide solution .
These are the harshest type of laxatives. They cause the bowel to squeeze or contract to move the stools out. Bisacodyl and sennosides are examples of stimulant laxatives. Stimulant laxatives should not be used for more than a few days. When these laxatives are taken for a long time, the bowel can lose its muscle tone. It can forget how to push the stool out on its own.
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Puritans Pride Herbal Laxative
Occasional constipation is something that plagues most modern humans due to our chaotic lifestyle. We dont exercise, we dont eat enough fibers, and we forget to drink water, all things which eventually harden our stool. Thats why we need to supplement our diets with a product like the Herbal Laxative Tablet.
It contains no harsh synthetics, no sugar or preservatives, and all the ingredients come from organic sources which are grown without pesticides. All the flavors are natural, and the product can be ingested even by those who are allergic to gluten or lactose intolerant.
If you combine this item with a balanced diet, you will never need to worry about a bloated abdomen or pain while defecating. It has all the features of something that can potentially become a staple in your house, and it will make your gut as happy as an enema would, but without all its complications.
Some people have said that they wouldve preferred the product to come as capsules and not tablets. However, the fact that you dont need many at a time and because their shape is well rounded shouldnt make taking them a struggle even if you need them more than once.
This supplement is designed to work as an auxiliary aid combined with a balanced diet and lifestyle to prevent bloating and constipation from ever showing up in our lives.
The modern busy lives we live sometimes lead to imbalanced diets, lack of exercise and lack of water consumption, which all lead to intestinal health issues.