Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Hard Stool Laxatives

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:

Continue to Hard Stool Warning Signs

Last Updated: Mar 21, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Hard Stool References
  1. Bleser S, Brunton S, Carmichael B, Olden K, Rasch R, Steege J. Management of chronic constipation: recommendations from a consensus panel. J Fam Pract. 2005 Aug;54(8):691-8. [16061057]
  2. Brandt LJ, Prather CM, Quigley EM, Schiller LR, Schoenfeld P, Talley NJ. Systematic review on the management of chronic constipation in North America. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005;100 Suppl 1:S5-S21. [16008641]
  3. Clayden G, Keshtgar AS. Management of childhood constipation. Postgrad Med J. 2003 Nov;79(937):616-21. [14654570]
  4. Lembo A, Camilleri M. Chronic constipation. N Engl J Med. 2003 Oct 2;349(14):1360-8. [14523145]
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