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Laxatives: Types, Dosage & Side Effects

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Laxatives: Types, Dosage & Side Effects
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Laxatives: Types, Dosage & Side Effects

Laxatives, often referred to as “luxatives,” play a crucial role in managing constipation and other digestive issues. Lets understand about Laxatives: Types, Dosage & Side Effects.

Types of Laxatives

Laxatives come in various forms, each with its unique mechanism of action:

  1. Bulk-forming Laxatives: These laxatives work by adding bulk to the stool, softening it and promoting bowel movements. Common examples include psyllium husk and methylcellulose.
  2. Stimulant Laxatives: Stimulants directly affect the muscles in the intestines, prompting contractions and bowel movements. Senna and bisacodyl are typical stimulant laxatives.
  3. Osmotic Laxatives: These laxatives draw water into the intestines, softening the stool and stimulating bowel movements. Magnesium hydroxide and lactulose are examples of osmotic laxatives.
  4. Stool Softeners: Stool softeners, such as docusate sodium, make the stool easier to pass by adding moisture to it.
  5. Lubricant Laxatives: Lubricants coat the stool, making it slippery and easier to pass. Mineral oil is a common lubricant laxative.

How Laxatives Work

Each type of laxative has a unique mechanism of action:

  • Bulk-forming laxatives add mass to the stool.
  • Stimulant laxatives irritate the intestines, causing contractions.
  • Osmotic laxatives draw water into the intestines.
  • Stool softeners add moisture to the stool.
  • Lubricant laxatives make the stool slippery.

Uses (Indications) of Laxatives

Laxatives are primarily used to treat constipation, but they may also be prescribed for:

  • Bowel preparation before medical procedures.
  • Temporary relief from occasional constipation.
  • Managing symptoms in specific medical conditions.

Contraindications (When not to use laxatives)

While laxatives can be effective, they are not suitable for everyone. Contraindications include:

  • Allergy or sensitivity to specific laxative ingredients.
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting without a known cause.
  • Obstruction or blockage in the intestines.
  • Certain medical conditions, like appendicitis.

Side Effects of Laxatives

Laxatives can lead to side effects, including:

Dosage and Duration

Dosage and duration guidelines for laxatives vary depending on the type and the individual’s needs. It’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations and not exceed the recommended dosage or duration, as prolonged use can lead to laxative dependence.


Laxatives, or “luxatives,” are valuable tools in managing constipation and related conditions.

Understanding the types, mechanisms, proper usage, contraindications, potential side effects, and guidelines for dosage and duration is essential for their safe and effective use.

Always consult with a healthcare provider before using laxatives, and be cautious not to misuse them. With the right knowledge, you can make informed decisions about laxative use to improve your digestive health.

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