Types of Laxatives for Constipation

Whether you suffer from chronic constipation or just find yourself temporarily bound up, sometimes you need to turn to a laxative to get things moving. There are so many different kinds of laxatives available it is hard to know which one is the best one to use. Before making your choice, it is important to know about the safety and effectiveness of each type. The information below will help you to decide which one is right for you.

Fiber Supplements (Bulk Laxatives)

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Fiber supplements use the power of fiber to soften the stool and stimulate a bowel movement. There are three basic types, each of which uses a different ingredient: psyllium, calcium polycarbophil, or methylcellulose. As with all laxatives, it is essential to drink plenty of fluids when using these products.
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Osmotic Laxatives

Osmotic laxatives work by increasing the amount of fluid secreted within the intestines, resulting in softer and easier-to-pass stools. The three major osmotic laxatives are Miralax, Lactulose, and Milk of Magnesia.
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Herbal Stimulant Laxatives

A variety of herbs have a reputation for having laxative effects. Aloe latex, cascara sagrada, frangula, rhubarb, and senna are all examples of herbal stimulant laxatives. Due to possible health concerns, herbal stimulant laxatives are recommended to be used on a short-term (no longer than one week) basis only. For more information on safety concerns of these natural remedies:

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Stimulant Laxatives

Stimulant laxatives work by speeding up the movement of intestinal muscles, thus inducing a bowel movement. Many of the well-known products sold in your drug store are stimulant laxatives, including Carters Little Pills, ExLax, and Dulcolax. Stimulant laxatives are generally best-used as a short-term treatment for constipation.
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Stool Softeners

Stool softeners do just what they say they do -- they soften the stool so that it is easier to pass. Most stool softeners contain a medication called docusate. Brand names include Colace, Doxinate, and Fleet Sof-Lax. Stool softeners are generally recommended for short-term use, but can be taken for a longer time with the blessing of your physician.
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