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How long does the effect of a laxative last?

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

When you need to take a laxative, there are many questions that you ask yourself about it: which one should you use, its effects, if it will be good to use it, and, especially, how long the effect lasts on the body.

Many people have to require the use of laxatives to control bowel habits. Precisely, the inability to evacuate regularly conditions the use of these substances.

If you use laxatives, one of the questions you may ask yourself is, “how long does the effect of a laxative last once you have ingested it?” Keep reading this FastlyHealarticle to discover the answer.

How long does a laxative take to work, and how many hours does it last?

Laxatives are medicines used to evacuate the intestines, allowing stool to pass without complications. These are used to prevent constipation and relieve it, although they should always be used under medical prescription.

After the laxative is ingested, it acts in the colon, increasing intestinal motility. For this, it directly affects the nerve endings of the colon plexus. Its effect begins 6 to 12 hours after its ingestion. Therefore, the person who needs to take it has this margin of time for the intestine to initiate the evacuation of the feces inside.

Laxatives should be taken in a single dose once a day for a maximum of 3 days if needed. If for any reason, evacuation is not achieved after that time, a second dose of the laxative mentioned above should not be taken.

It is essential to avoid falling into the abuse of its use. After 6 to 12 hours of having ingested it, it will begin its effect and will remain for 4 to 6 hours, and this will depend on the movement of the intestines of each person.

Types of laxatives

Laxatives are grouped into four groups due to their action to treat constipation:

  • Bolus Forming Agents: Foods high in fiber, such as wheat bran, or products such as Metamucil, Perdiem, Citrucel, or Fibercom, improve constipation. They absorb more fluid in the intestines, which allows the stool to increase in size, thus causing the urge to evacuate.
  • Stool lubricants: these laxatives are characterized by covering the stool’s surface, making it easier to slide through the intestines, which contributes to a faster exit from the intestine. In this group are the Glycerin suppositories.
  • Stool Softeners – Products like Colace are responsible for softening and lubricating stool. When these types of laxatives are ingested, you must drink plenty of water for them to work well.
  • Osmotic laxatives: allow the intestines to have more liquid. In this way, they manage to soften the stool and help to evacuate it from the intestine. This group has the milk of magnesia, Miralax, and absorbable sugars such as lactulose or sorbitol. With the use of these laxatives, plenty of water intake is recommended.
  • Stimulant laxatives: these types of laxatives are the strongest. They make the intestine contract to expel stool. They promote an increase in the rate at which stool passes through the intestines, irritating the lining of the intestines. The use of this type of laxative regularly is not recommended since they change the tone and sensation of the large intestine, which would cause dependence on laxatives to be able to evacuate the intestine.

In the following FastlyHealarticle, we show some effective natural laxatives.

When should I use a laxative?

Laxatives have a strict indication in those cases where it is challenging to move stool from the intestines. Each patient has their particular evacuation habits, and not all people have the same pattern.

Constipation is common among the elderly, people with little or no physical activity, those with eating disorders or not getting enough water, and those with intestinal disorders. In these situations, it is advisable to go to the doctor, and he will be the one to prescribe the laxative that suits you best according to the symptoms and the degree of constipation you present.

Many laxatives are available in establishments without a prescription. However, it is best if they are prescribed by the doctor.

Consequences of laxative abuse

The frequent and indiscriminate consumption of laxatives can make you fall into abuse them, which is why you could present conditions such as:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Intestinal paralysis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Chronic melanosis.
  • Pancreatitis.
  • Hemorrhoids.

That is why its indication must be made in specific cases where health is not to be put at risk.

Precautions when ingesting a laxative

  • The doctor must prescribe laxatives, and their intake must be controlled.
  • Taking laxatives cannot become routine.
  • They must be used according to the age of the patients. It should not be used in children under five years of age. In older adults, it should only be given during the time stipulated by the pediatrician according to age, weight, and the severity of constipation.
  • It is essential to know the cause that gives rise to the appearance of constipation to indicate the laxative only in the case that it is necessary.
  • Frequent and unjustified use can lead to malnutrition due to a lack of nutrient absorption.
  • It should be taken with great care when taking other medications such as antibiotics, blood thinners, or heart or bone drugs. In these cases, you should consult with your doctor to avoid complications.
  • If you are pregnant, you should go to your gynecologist, and he will indicate the dose until you control your bowel habits.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

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