Many safe, natural over-the-counter laxatives can be purchased in stores to cure occasional constipation, in many ways. But it is important to know the proper use of these drugs and to always use them according to their directions. Overuse of laxatives can cause dangerous side effects, including electrolyte imbalance, heartburn and stomach cramps. They are not meant to be used as a long-term solution to constipation.
Constipation is the outcome of an inadequate evacuation of stool and increased pressure on the rectal muscles. The excessive strain causes the muscles to contract and weaken, thereby resulting in incomplete evacuation of stool and increased pressure on the rectal veins. Most people who experience constipation most of the time have weak or imbalanced colon muscles. These muscles weaken and become less able to prevent stool from being pushed out. When you are trying laxatives for constipation, it is a good idea to start with a fiber-rich diet and a low-salt diet, to promote proper digestion and intestinal health.
Over the counter laxatives provide relief for occasional constipation and also act as stool softeners. If you follow the correct dosage and process, they can provide long-lasting relief. Overuse of laxatives can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Therefore, they are not a good choice for chronic use. Long-term use can also cause bowel abnormalities and weakening of the colon muscles.
Some of the most common over-the-counter laxatives include Metamucil, Laxatives, Bowtrol and Promethazine. These are the most commonly used laxatives and they come in liquid, tablet, capsule and powder form. The liquid laxatives are the easiest to take and are usually combined with a meal or other liquids. Tablets are more difficult to take and should be taken with a large glass of water, to help dissolve the tablet. Powder laxatives are generally made up of natural ingredients and are used in combination with food or water.
Laxatives do not work effectively for constipation if the stool only passes through one hole or passage. Two types of single-ingredient laxatives include Isabgol and Liquorice Root. These laxatives will not work alone; they need to be accompanied by a secondary action, such as eating a Fiber supplement or taking an oral laxative. When using single-ingredient laxatives, make sure that you read labels carefully because some may contain ingredients that could make your stool go even harder than it already is.
Multi-ingredient laxatives include both Isabgol and Bulk-forming laxatives. This type of laxative usually comes as a tablet, capsule or powder and needs to be taken with a large quantity of water or liquid food. Bulk-forming laxatives include Metamucil, which is taken as a single dose, or with some soluble fiber supplements. When using bulk-forming laxatives, it’s best to check with your doctor or health store to see which ingredient your laxative contains.
People who use bulk-forming laxatives to relieve constipation may experience an increase in gas and an increase in bowel frequency. If you experience these side effects, or any other uncomfortable or unpleasant symptom, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using any laxatives. You doctor or pharmacist can advise you on the proper dosage and the proper way to use your laxatives so that you won’t do any damage to your body. Also be aware that bulk-forming laxatives don’t have the effect of strengthening your colon. Excessive use of these types of laxatives could result in serious or even life-threatening problems.
Whether your doctor recommends the use of laxatives or not, you should always read labels carefully. Read the ingredients in the laxative you are considering, including what they are made of (such as isabgol or psyllium), their concentration (how concentrated they are) and their intended use (to alleviate constipation). You should also read the warning labels, which will indicate the types of side effects, if any, that may occur from their use. For example, if you are taking a laxative to treat diarrhea, you may want to notify your doctor or pharmacist if you are pregnant or if you suffer from certain heart or kidney problems.