There are four types of products used to prevent or treat constipation: bulking agents, stool softeners, osmotic laxatives, and stimulant laxatives.
Bulking agents, such as bran or psyllium (found in Metamucil, for example) ease constipation by increasing the volume of stool and making it easier to pass. Regular use of bulking agents is safe and helps make them more effective.
Your doctor's most important tool for diagnosing the cause of your diarrhea is the information you provide. You will need to inform the doctor about recent travel and whether other people in your family are ill.
Providing details about the stool may be embarrassing, but they are very important, such as frequent presence of blood or mucus; how watery it is; how long you've had diarrhea; whether you are also experiencing severe urgency, abdominal pain, or pain in your rectum; and whether it occurs...
Stool softeners (such as Colace and DocusateCalcium) soften the stool, making it easier to pass. Stool softeners can be most effective if you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Osmotic laxatives, such as Fleet Phospho-Soda, Milk of Magnesia, or Miralax, and nonabsorbable sugars (such as lactulose or sorbitol), hold fluids in the intestine. They also draw fluids into the intestine from other tissue and blood vessels. This extra fluid in the intestines makes the stool softer and easier to pass. Drink plenty of water when you use this type of laxative.
Stimulant laxatives (such as Correctol, Ex-Lax, and Senokot) make stool move faster through the intestines by irritating the lining of the intestines. Regular use of stimulant laxatives is not recommended. Stimulant laxatives change the tone and feeling in the large intestine, and you can become dependent on using laxatives all the time to have a bowel movement.
Take any laxative or bulking agent with plenty of water or other liquids.
Do not take laxatives regularly. They change the tone and feeling in the large intestine. And you can become dependent on using them all the time to have a bowel movement. If you need help having regular bowel movements, use a bulking agent.
Regular use of laxatives may change your body's ability to absorb vitamin D and calcium. This can lead to weakened bones.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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