What are the Benefits of Laxatives?

What are the Benefits of Laxatives?

3 Benefits of Laxatives

If you’re experiencing constipation, you may not be sure of the next step to take. This problem doesn’t always require medication to treat. However, there are some advantages to choosing the medications that are available on the market.

One of the most popular treatments for constipation is laxative. In this guide, you’ll learn about some of the benefits of laxatives as a treatment option. You may realize that in some cases, treating your constipation symptoms is more effective than waiting for them to pass.

Table of Contents

  • They are widely available without a prescription
  • They are widely understood to be safe and effective
  • There are different active ingredients to choose from
  • FAQs about laxatives

They are Widely Available Without a Prescription

One major benefit of laxatives is that they are easy for you to find when you need help with constipation. 

Many laxatives have been FDA-approved for use without a prescription over the last few decades. As a result, you can easily source these medications from pharmacies, convenience stores, and even online marketplaces.

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Prescribed laxatives do exist. These laxatives are only available by prescription for different reasons. Some of them present special risks to people with certain conditions, some of them become dangerous after long-term use, and some have addictive properties.

You may be able to find the same active ingredients in both prescribed medications and over-the-counter medications. The amount of the active ingredient will typically be lower in over-the-counter laxatives.

They are Widely Understood to be Safe and Effective

Laxatives have been used to treat constipation safely for years. Many active ingredients have been safely used for decades, and have undergone significant testing both in labs and through distribution to the public.

Thanks to this long history, we have a great understanding of how different over-the-counter laxatives interact with different people. Many active ingredients have already been found to be safe for children over 12.  

These medications are widely marked with warning signs that are particular to common chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or liver disease.

If you are concerned about the effect that any of these drugs may have on your system, you should speak to a doctor. Your doctor will have access to a significant amount of research that can tell them whether you can take each laxative safely. 

There are Different Active Ingredients to Choose From

You will be able to find a variety of over-the-counter laxatives for sale. The variety doesn’t come merely from name brand and generic medications, it comes from the fact that laxatives employ a variety of different ingredients that can still achieve a consistent result.

This is great for consumers because it means that they’re more likely to find a laxative that they can use safely. After all, certain active ingredients can be harmful to people suffering from certain medical conditions. The variety means that you have a chance to find a laxative that won’t cause dangerous side effects for you.

You will likely be able to find all of the following active ingredients:

  • Calcium Polycarbophil: This active ingredient is used to create what are called “bulk-forming” laxatives. This ingredient works by increasing the amount of water in the intestines. Not many side effects are associated with Calcium Polycarbophil. Some people may experience an allergic reaction to this ingredient.  
  • Docusate Sodium: This active ingredient (often also referred to as “Senna”) is a stool-softening laxative. While the side effects are rare, those with sensitivities may experience cramping, pain, or rectal bleeding.
  • Sennosides: This active ingredient is known as a stimulant laxative. It is not only used to treat constipation, but also to clear out the intestines ahead of the surgery. Due to its strength, some patients may experience cramping, nausea, or diarrhea.  
  • Bisacodyl: This active ingredient is another form of stimulant laxative that is widely used both in homes and in hospitals. Hospitals frequently use it to clear out the bowels of patients who are about to go through surgery. While rare, some side effects may include nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, muscle cramps, dizziness, fainting, decreased urination, and mood changes.

Should I Speak to my Doctor before Taking OTC Laxatives?

It’s never a bad idea to speak to your doctor before taking medications. Most people will not seek out their doctor’s recommendation for small issues like constipation. However, you should speak to a doctor if you have some pre-existing conditions.

The following conditions are more likely to cause complications with the active ingredients of over-the-counter laxatives:

  • A blockage in your bowel
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Stomach or intestine problems
  • Sudden change in bowel habits that last for more than 2 weeks
  • Vomiting
  • An unusual or allergic reaction
  • If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • If you are breast-feeding

You should always be careful about how long you use any laxative. It is recommended that you stop the use of laxatives if they have no effect for seven days. This may suggest that there are more serious underlying conditions that need to be investigated. 

Take Advantage of the Benefits of Laxatives

Now you understand the benefits of laxatives. These facts may make it easier for you to decide if you want to treat your symptoms rather than wait them out. Remember, they are widely available without a prescription, considered to be generally safe, and come with many different active ingredients.


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