Laxatives cause your intestine to push stool through the bowels quickly. Laxatives come in the form of pills, liquids, suppositories, or enemas.
There are four main types of laxatives:
- Stimulant laxatives: These medicines work by irritating the intestinal lining. Most of these contain bisacodyl. Stimulants should not be used more than once or twice a month. Popular stimulants include:
- Saline laxatives: These are used to empty your bowels quickly and completely. This may be helpful before abdominal X-rays, special tests, or surgery. These laxatives contain magnesium. A common brand name is Phillips Milk of Magnesia. Saline laxatives should not be used for chronic constipation or in people with kidney disease.
- Lubricants: Mineral oil and olive oil coat and soften stools. This makes the stool move through the bowels easier. Mineral oil should not be taken with meals because it can stop normal digestion. Mineral oil can prevent the absorption of certain vitamins. It can also cause anal leaking and itching.
- Stool softeners: These medicines help when stools are too hard. Examples include:
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