Laxatives: Worming Or Not?

are laxatives worming

Laxatives are medicines that treat constipation by softening stools or stimulating the bowels. They are available in various forms, including pills, powders, liquids, suppositories, and enemas. While laxatives can provide relief, they should be used with caution as prolonged use can lead to side effects such as bloating, gas, and stomach cramps. It is important to follow the instructions and not exceed the recommended dosage to avoid potential health risks. In some cases, laxatives may be used after deworming to help flush out parasites, but this approach is not without controversy as it can stress the body and lead to laxative dependency.

Characteristics Values
Purpose To treat constipation by softening hard stools or stimulating bowel movement
Types Bulk-forming, osmotics, stool softeners, lubricants, stimulants
Availability Over-the-counter, prescription
Forms Pills, powders, liquids, syrups, suppositories, enemas
Side effects Bloating, gas, stomach cramps, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, chronic constipation, intestinal blockage


Laxatives are not always necessary to expel worms

There are other medications that can be used to treat worm infections, such as mebendazole, which is available over the counter for adults and children aged 2 and above, and by prescription for children aged 6 months and above. Mebendazole is used to treat infections caused by whipworm, pinworm, roundworm, and hookworm, and works by stopping the worms from using sugar (glucose) to live, thereby killing them. It is important to note that mebendazole does not kill the eggs of the worms, so a second dose may be required after two weeks to prevent reinfection.

Another medication used to treat worm infections is albendazole, which is available as tablets for adults and as a suspension for children. The medication should be taken on an empty stomach for roundworm, threadworm, pork/beef tapeworm, and dwarf tapeworm infections, and with food for liver fluke infections and cutaneous larva migrans. As with mebendazole, it is important to complete the full course of albendazole medication, even if you start feeling better, to ensure the infection is fully treated.

In addition to medication, there are lifestyle changes that can help prevent and treat worm infections. These include practicing good personal hygiene, such as washing hands and scrubbing under fingernails, particularly before eating and after using the toilet, as well as keeping fingernails short and disinfecting kitchen and bathroom surfaces.


Laxatives can be used to treat constipation

Laxatives are available in various forms, including pills, capsules, liquids, suppositories, and enemas, and can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. They can also be prescribed by a doctor for chronic constipation or constipation associated with certain medical conditions. It is always recommended to consult a healthcare provider before taking laxatives, especially for pregnant women and children.

There are different types of laxatives, each with its own benefits and side effects. Bulk-forming laxatives, also known as fibre supplements, add soluble fibre to the stool, making it bigger and softer. This stimulates the colon to contract and push out the stool. Examples include psyllium (Metamucil®) and methylcellulose (Citrucel®). Lubricant laxatives, such as mineral oil, coat the colon and prevent water absorption, keeping the stool soft and making it easier to pass. Lubricants are highly effective but are best used for short-term relief.

Osmotic and hyperosmolar laxatives, including magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia) and polyethylene glycol (Miralax), draw fluids into the intestine, softening the stool. Stool softener laxatives, also known as emollient laxatives, contain surfactants like docusate (Colace) that help to "wet" and soften the stool. Stimulant laxatives, such as bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax), activate the nerves controlling the colon muscles, forcing the colon into motion. While stimulant laxatives provide almost instantaneous relief, they may cause cramping and diarrhoea and should not be used regularly.

It is important to follow the instructions when taking laxatives to ensure their effectiveness and reduce the risk of side effects. Additionally, a healthy diet rich in fibre, regular exercise, and adequate fluid intake can help prevent constipation in most people.

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Bulk-forming laxatives are the gentlest option

Bulk-Forming Laxatives: The Gentlest Option

Laxatives are a type of medicine used to treat constipation. They are often used when lifestyle changes, such as increasing fibre intake, drinking more fluids, and exercising, have not helped. There are several types of laxatives, including bulk-forming laxatives, which are considered the gentlest option.

Bulk-forming laxatives work by increasing the "bulk" or weight of the stool, which then stimulates the bowel. They do this by adding soluble fibre to the stool, which draws water from the body into the stool, making it bigger, softer, and easier to pass. This increase in size stimulates the colon to contract and push out the stool.

Some common bulk-forming laxatives include:

  • Psyllium (Metamucil)
  • Polycarbophil (FiberCon)
  • Methylcellulose (Citrucel)
  • Fybogel (ispaghula husk)

These laxatives are generally safe for healthy people and are the least likely to cause side effects. They are often recommended as the first line of defence before trying other types of laxatives. There is a lower risk of experiencing cramping or explosive diarrhoea with bulk-forming laxatives compared to stimulant laxatives.

It typically takes 12 hours to three days for bulk-forming laxatives to work. It is important to take them with at least 8 ounces of water or fruit juice to prevent bowel obstruction and stay well-hydrated throughout the day.

While bulk-forming laxatives are considered safe, side effects or drug interactions may occur in some cases. These can include mild stomach pain, bloating, gas, and difficulty swallowing. People with kidney disease or diabetes are at a higher risk of experiencing electrolyte imbalances when taking laxatives, so it is important to consult a doctor before use if you have either of these conditions. Additionally, laxatives may impact how the body absorbs medications, so it is recommended to take them at least two hours before or after taking any other medication.

In summary, bulk-forming laxatives are a gentle and effective option for treating constipation. They work by increasing the bulk of the stool and stimulating the bowel, resulting in softer and easier bowel movements. With their lower risk of side effects, they are often recommended as the first choice among laxatives. However, as with any medication, it is important to follow the instructions and be aware of potential side effects and interactions.


Stool softeners are also called emollient laxatives

Stool softeners are a type of laxative called emollient laxatives. They are medications that help treat mild constipation. Emollient laxatives work by helping liquids mix into the stool to prevent dry, hard masses from forming. They do not cause bowel movements but allow people to go without straining. Stool softeners are especially useful for people who should avoid straining during bowel movements due to heart conditions or recent medical procedures and surgeries.

Stool softeners work by increasing the amount of water and fat that the stool absorbs, making it softer and easier to pass. The active ingredients in stool softeners are docusate sodium and docusate calcium. They are available in the form of oral softgel capsules, tablets, capsules, syrup, or liquid. They can also be administered as a rectal enema.

Stool softeners are gentle medications with mild effects. They are typically used for temporary, mild, or chronic constipation. They are also prescribed after major surgeries, such as heart surgery or hernia repair, to prevent straining during bowel movements, which could lead to complications.

It is important to note that stool softeners should not be taken for more than a week without consulting a healthcare professional. If constipation persists or worsens, it is recommended to contact a doctor for further guidance.

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Lubricant laxatives make the colon slippery

Lubricant laxatives are primarily used to treat constipation by making stools slippery and easier to pass. They work by lubricating the intestinal wall and stool mass, coating them with a waterproof film layer that prevents the faeces from drying out. This coating also prevents the colon from absorbing water from the stool, helping it to stay soft. Lubricant laxatives are commonly used to treat fecal impaction, a large, hard mass of stools that gets stuck in the colon or rectum.

Lubricant laxatives are available without a prescription and can be purchased over the counter in pharmacies, grocery stores, and online. They are usually taken orally and may be labelled as laxatives, stool softeners, or fibre supplements. It is important to follow the instructions on the medication to ensure safe and effective use.

Lubricant laxatives typically contain mineral oil, which can add a slick layer to the intestine's walls. While these laxatives are highly effective in the short term, prolonged use may lead to decreased absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and certain prescription drugs. Therefore, it is recommended to use them sparingly and only when necessary.

Side effects of oral lubricant laxatives may include anal seepage, pruritus ani, perianal discomfort, and intestinal malabsorption. It is important to consult a doctor or pharmacist before taking these medications, especially if taken concurrently with other drugs or supplements. Overuse of laxatives can lead to complications such as chronic constipation and intestinal blockage.

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