Difficulty defecating or constipation can interfere with comfort and daily activities. Not a few sufferers who decide to use laxatives as a solution. However, the consumption of this drug needs to be done carefully to avoid the risks and side effects.
There are various types of laxatives that work in different ways. Its effectiveness can also vary from person to person. The following are the three most common types of laxatives:
- Osmotic laxatives: stimulate the body to increase the amount of fluid in the intestine so that stool becomes softer and is easily pushed out of the body. Example: lactulose.
- Laxatives in the form of fiber (fiber) or bulking agents / bulk-forming: fiber works by increasing the water content in the feces (feces) while making the feces formed become more dense so that it can pass through the intestine easily. Example: ispaghula husk.
- Stimulant laxatives: stimulate and help the muscles lining the digestive tract to encourage feces or accelerate their movement in the large intestine to the anus. Example: sodium picosulphate.
In general, osmotic laxatives work more easily than stimulant laxatives. However, the use of all laxatives should be done carefully and first consulted with a doctor.
Laxative Consumption Guide
Generally laxatives are available in various forms, including powder dissolved in drinking water, capsules or oral tablets, capsules inserted into the anus, as well as liquids or gels that are applied to the anus. Although including over the counter drugs, but you are advised to always read the instructions for using the drug to reduce the risk of side effects or other risks. Here are some things that can be used as a guide.
- Some laxatives should be taken at certain times, such as when you wake up in the morning or before going to bed at night. Observe the rules for using laxatives of your choice.
- Consumption of osmotic laxatives can cause dehydration. Be sure to consume enough fluids when using this medicine.
- Taking laxatives at a higher dose than recommended or too often can endanger health and risk triggering diarrhea, imbalance of mineral and salt levels in the body, and intestinal disorders in the form of stool buildup or blockage.
- Note the possible side effects that can result from taking this drug. These effects can vary in different types of drugs. Some common side effects include nausea, bloating, cramps and pain in the stomach, bowel movements, and dehydration. Dehydration can cause headaches and the color of urine is darker than normal.
- Laxatives are not for continuous use. Stop using it immediately if your constipation has healed. Long-term use risks causing electrolyte imbalances (potassium, sodium, chloride, and magnesium) that regulate a number of bodily functions. This condition can cause weakness, confusion, convulsions, and an abnormal heartbeat.
- Avoid using several types of laxatives together. Aside from having no small side effects, the use of multiple laxatives will not be more effective.
If constipation does not heal in more than a week, you should stop using it and consult yourself to the doctor.
Laxatives Are Not Recommended for People with Some Diseases
In general, side effects and risks of using laxatives are very dependent on the history of the disease and the drugs that are being consumed. Laxatives can interact with blood-thinning drugs, some drugs for bone and heart, and some antibiotics. Oral laxatives can affect the absorption of certain nutrients and drugs in the body.
This drug is also not recommended for consumption by people with certain health problems below. If it is felt really needed, consumption of laxatives in people with the following conditions requires prior consultation with a doctor, namely:
- Bowel disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Have a history of kidney and / or liver disorders.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Have diabetes, because some types of laxatives can trigger an increase in blood sugar levels.
- Has lactose intolerance, an ingredient found in some laxatives.
- Are taking opioid pain relievers, such as morphine or codeine.
- Having a genetic disorder that is very rare, namely phenylketonuria. This condition is characterized by the body being unable to break down the phenylalanine substance contained in some types of laxatives.
Immediately consult a doctor if when using laxatives you experience pain, weakness, dizziness, anal bleeding, abnormal fatigue, severe cramps, or blood in the stool. Too often taking laxatives can also cause dependence. You need to consult a doctor to deal with this condition.
Prioritize Natural Laxatives for Children and Pregnant & Lactating Mothers
Laxatives can be easily obtained at pharmacies and drug stores. But keep in mind that unless prescribed by a doctor, laxatives are not recommended for children as well as pregnant and nursing mothers.
Pressure on the intestine causes pregnant women more likely to experience constipation so they tend to feel the need for laxatives. But avoid taking this drug without consulting first with a doctor. Likewise for mothers who are breastfeeding. Some laxatives can contaminate breast milk and cause diarrhea in infants. Types of laxatives forming and softening stool are generally safer for pregnant women to use than stimulant laxatives.
While in infants, laxatives should not be given to babies who are still breastfeeding or less than six months. Constipation in infants can try to be overcome in the following ways.
- Lack of fluids is a major cause of constipation, including in infants. Reduce it by giving more milk, mineral water, or fruits with high water content, such as watermelon and papaya.
- Constipation in infants can also be waged with a gentle massage on the baby’s abdomen and moving his legs like the movement of people pedaling a bicycle.
- It’s better to give milk than formula milk. Feces in infants with formula milk tend to be denser and harder than in babies who are breastfed.
- Avoid giving too much solid food to babies who start consuming MPASI (complementary foods).
Sometimes the doctor will recommend glycerin suppositories (cone or cylindrical glycerin preparations) to be inserted into the baby’s rectum. But avoid using this method without a doctor’s prescription. Giving laxatives in infants who have started to consume solid foods also need to be consulted first. While constipation in children can be overcome by changes in diet and consumption of osmotic laxatives or stimulants. But the gift should be by prescription from a doctor.
Above all, before rushing to take laxatives, there are actually several natural and healthy ways to overcome and prevent constipation. Do regular exercise, consume enough mineral water, and consume enough fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber to facilitate bowel movements. After constipation improves, you can continue to help defecate in these ways to prevent constipation from coming back.