A stool softener is a type of laxative or purgative that is taken to help relieve constipation. It may be in the form of food, compound or drug. An example of food that acts as natural stool softener is cabbage. With regard to stool softener medications, it could come as a tablet, capsule, syrup or liquid to be taken orally. As its name implies, it works to soften the stool so a constipated individual would have an easier time moving his bowel.
Stool softener: Mechanism of action
A stool softener facilitates additional water and/or fats to be integrated into the stool. This makes the stool softer and somewhat more ‘slippery’, allowing an individual to move his bowel more easily.
Stool softener: Site of action
Stool softeners function in the small and large colons. As these are the regions of the digestive system wherein ingested food is processed and whatnot, the small and large colons are also the areas of the intestinal tract in which gastric contents get ‘stuck’ and results to constipation.
Stool oftener: Onset of action
It usually takes such a laxative 12 to 72 hours to work its function in the intestines. These laxatives are typically taken at bedtime. However, different kinds and/or brands have different instructions. So, it is advised that folks follow the directions as written on the prescription label or package of the medication. It will also be recommended to consult a pharmacist or a doctor about how to take a particular stool softener drug.
As already mentioned, stool softeners may have different instructions on how to appropriately take them. Then again, most of the stool softener medications are in tablet or capsule form. These are commonly taken with a glass of water. In case of the liquid form, the drug package typically includes a specially marked dropper to aid people in measuring the proper dose. If individuals still have difficulty in administering, they can ask a pharmacist or doctor to demonstrate or show the correct way of doing so. A liquid stool softener usually gives a bitter taste. A person could mix it with 120 milliliters or 4 ounces of fruit juice, milk or formula to mask the unpleasant taste. Keep in mind that this is not applicable with the syrup form. The syrup ought to be taken as it is.
Stool softener: What to tell the doctor
There are certain things a person should to relay to the doctor before he takes a stool softener. First, he needs to inform the doctor if he is allergic to any type of drugs. A few stool softeners contain compounds that may bring about allergic reactions.
The patient also needs to tell the doctor the non-prescription and prescription medications he is taking, especially vitamins and aspirin. In addition, a female ought to inform her doctor if she is pregnant, plans to become pregnant or is breastfeeding. If a woman becomes pregnant while taking a stool softener, she needs to tell her doctor right away.
Among the various types of laxatives, stool softeners are the mildest and safest to use. So, if you suspect that you have constipation, consult a doctor and discuss with him about the use of a stool softener.