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Laxatives are medicines that are used to treat constipation.


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Laxatives are a type of medicine that helps a person empty their bowels. They are generally used to relieve constipation. Most are available to buy from over-the-counter or online and without a prescription. Laxatives can be taken orally by mouth in the form of liquids, tablets, or capsules. They can also be taken through the rectum — for example, suppositories or enemas. It is more important to notice changes to bowel habits.

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We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on thiswe may earn a small commission. Laxatives are a type of medication that can be used to treat constipation.

Constipation and how laxatives help

Laxatives do this by stimulating a bowel movement. There are many different types of laxatives available. Different types of laxatives work in different ways, begin working at different times, and stay in the body for varying amounts of time. We explain the differences in how long each type of laxative takes to work, as well as more information regarding each laxative type.

The table below shows how long each type of laxative takes to work. Out of the different types, suppositories work the fastest, between 15 to 30 mins. The amount of time that a medication spends in your system can depend on the active ingredient, the dose given, and the route in which it leaves the body.

The active ingredients of laxatives can have different half-lives. For example, the half-life of lactulose is about 2 hours while the half-life of bisacodyl is 16 hours. Emollient laxatives are also referred to as stool softeners. Emollients take 12 to 72 hours to work. They work to soften your stool by adding moisture to it. Softer stools are easier to pass. Purchase stool softeners here.

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Bulk-forming laxatives function similarly to the fiber that you obtain from your diet. They promote the absorption of water into your bowels.

This makes stools larger and softer which in turn makes them easier to pass. The active ingredients of bulk-forming laxatives can include psyllium, methylcellulose, and sterculia.

Here are options for purchasing bulk-forming laxatives. Lubricant laxatives promote the passage of stool through the bowel by coating the stool in a waterproof film. This allows the stool to both hold on to its moisture and to move more easily through the bowel. Mineral oil is an example of a lubricant laxative. You can purchase mineral oil here. This increase in fluid can help soften stool and promote its passage through the bowel. The active ingredient in lactulose laxatives is a sugar-like compound. Lactulose laxatives are often used for treatment of long-term or chronic constipation.

This type takes 48 to 72 hours. These laxatives are made up of salts in liquid. Saline takes 30 minutes to 3 hours to work. Polymer laxatives are made up of large molecules such as polyethylene glycol. Like saline laxatives, polymer laxatives are used for the short-term treatment of constipation. Polymers take 6 hours or longer to work. See your options for hyperosmotic laxatives. Stimulant laxatives cause the muscles of your bowels to contract. This allows stool to pass more readily through your bowels. The active ingredients of stimulant laxatives can include senna, bisacodyl, and sodium picosulphate.

Find a stimulant laxative for purchase here.

Once inserted, the medication dissolves and enters the bloodstream. Depending on the active ingredient, suppositories can work to either soften the stool or to stimulate the muscles of your bowels in order to better ease movement of stool. The active ingredients bisacodyl and glycerol can be given as suppositories to treat constipation.

Buy suppositories here. There are some risks that you should be aware of when you use laxatives. These can include:.

What are laxatives?

Be sure to read labels carefully when selecting a laxative. Some medications, such as antibiotics and heart medications, can interact in a negative way with laxatives. You should always be sure to use laxatives in moderation. If you find that you have to use laxatives often to have a bowel movement, you should visit your doctor to discuss your concerns.

Most laxatives are safe to take while breastfeeding, however you should still talk to your doctor before using them. There are a variety of laxatives available to treat constipation. Some laxatives are better for short-term treatment of constipation while others are more ideal for treating long-term or chronic constipation.

Increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Fiber helps to improve bowel function. Be sure to get enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Here are 22 high-fiber foods you should eat. You should aim for 8 glasses of water per day while avoiding things such as caffeine How long does a laxative take to wear off alcohol.

Here are 16 reasons to drink more water. Making sure that you exercise regularly can help stool to move more effectively through your bowels. Here are 6 ways to live a more active life. If you feel like you have to have a bowel movement, be sure to go at your earliest convenience. Laxatives can help relieve constipation and promote regular bowel movements. This article reviews 20 natural laxatives and how they work.

While laxatives and stool softeners can help you overcome a bout of constipation, these medications come with side effects. Bulk-forming laxatives such as Metamucil and FiberCon may help you find relief from constipation. Before you start taking them, learn about their…. Stimulant laxatives are one of the five basic laxative types. Stimulant laxatives relieve constipation by triggering the intestines to contract and….

Some Indian remedies are more effective for treating constipation than others. Learn about the most popular remedies for constipation relief. Occasional straining to poop is not something to worry about. But regular straining while pooping can lead to health complications. Learn more. Some people find…. Fiber is often recommended to relieve constipation. Although this works for many people, studies show that fiber can make constipation worse in some…. Medically reviewed by Alan Carter, Pharm. What are laxatives? Time table. Type of laxative How long does it take to work? Emollient 12 to 72 hours Bulk-forming 12 to 24 hours some effect 48 to 72 hours full effect Lubricant 6 to 8 hours Hyperosmotic 48 to 72 hours lactulose 30 minutes to 3 hours saline 6 hours or longer polymer Stimulant 6 to 12 hours Suppositories 15 to 30 minutes.

Emollient laxatives. Bulk-forming laxatives. Lubricant laxatives. Hyperosmotic laxatives. Stimulant laxatives. A word of caution. The bottom line. Read this next. Laxatives Side Effects: Understanding the Risks. Stool Softeners vs. What Are Bulk-Forming Laxatives? Medically reviewed by Nancy Choi, MD. Medically reviewed by Dena Westphalen, Pharm. Instant Indian Home Remedies for Constipation.

Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph. Dangers of Straining to Poop and How to Avoid. Does Fiber Relieve or Cause Constipation? A Critical Look.