How do laxatives work


how do laxatives work

Laxatives increase the size and softness of stools. Larger stools trigger gut contractions, and softer stools are more comfortable to pass. Laxatives have this effect because they contain a form of fiber that absorbs water that passes through the digestive tract. You may be able to use laxatives to treat constipation or diarrhea, although you should discuss your digestive problems with your doctor before trying to manage them yourself.

how do laxatives work
how do laxatives work


Laxatives take many forms, including liquid, granule, powder, tablet, delayed release tablet, chewable tablet, packet, capsule and wafer forms. Note that laxatives do not affect stools already in your rectum. Instead, they prevent constipation by increasing the stool size that your body produces.


Different brands of loose laxatives use different types of fiber to absorb water and increase stool size. Fiber types include psyllium, methylcellulose, polycarbophil, cellulose, and Plantago. If your doctor suggests a particular kind of fiber, ask for a brand recommendation or check product labels to determine what type of fiber they contain.

Types of

Inability to take a laxative mass with enough fluid can lead to blockage in your digestive tract. Follow the indications provided by the manufacturer. In general, each dose should be accompanied by 8 ounces of fluid, such as water or fruit juice, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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Different types of laxatives

Laxatives are taken to help cure constipation. There are four main kinds of laxatives that can be used. The four main types are laxative training, osmotic laxatives, stimulant laxatives and laxatives softener stool.

Mucilaginous laxatives

Fiber that is included in fruits, vegetables, and grains facilitate the movement of feces in the intestines. Fiber attracts fecal water and adds the volume of wastes, which helps to soften the feces so that it can move quickly through the intestines. When no one is eating enough fiber, a loose laxative training can be taken. Training laxatives contain a fiber like psyllium. Laxatives are forming 2 to 3 days to work.

Osmotic laxatives

Osmotic laxatives work by drawing water into the intestines. Water in the intestines cleanses and moves excrement into the intestines. Depending on the product, osmotic laxatives last from a few hours to a few days to work.

Stimulant laxatives

Stimulant laxatives stimulate movement in the intestines. The increased circulation causes feces to move quickly through the intestines. Stimulant laxatives act fast, can take between 2 to 12 hours to work.

Emollient laxatives

Laxatives Fabric softener stool work by drawing water in feces. Water softens the stool, making it easier for feces to move through the intestines. Emollients take about 1 to 2 days to work.


Laxatives can create addiction, which means that long-term use of laxatives can cause chronic constipation if left unchecked. Laxatives are recommended for occasional use. If laxatives are needed on more than casual, a doctor should be consulted. Some laxatives are not appropriate for people with specific health problems. If in doubt that laxatives are right for you, ask a doctor or pharmacist.


The best way to treat constipation is to avoid it in the first place. A healthy diet that contains a lot of high fiber foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains helps maintain healthy bathroom habits. Drinking plenty of water helps keep loose stools, which helps prevent constipation. Laxatives are suitable for occasional constipation, but prevention is always the best.


Laxatives, in general, are considered the sweetest because they add fiber to the diet to increase stool size. Other forms of laxatives use different methods to relieve constipation. Lubricant laxatives cover the stool surface so that they retain water. Saline laxatives pull fluids into the intestine of the surrounding tissue. Emollient laxatives help mix liquids in the stool. Finally, stimulant laxatives initiate the contractions of the intestine to expel the stool. Your body may become addicted to stimulant laxatives, so you should not use them for more than a few days.

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