While contemplating a remedy for constipation, laxatives are the first thing that pops in someone’s mind. Laxatives are usually associated with a pill which helps to make you go without thinking about how it actually makes your body something it has not been doing for a past few hours or days. Laxatives are the substances which loosen stool and increases the bowel movements. There are three basic types of laxatives, which vary on the basis of how they work and what are the side effects associated with them. A great point to consider here is that how long do laxatives last because depending on this your dosage is managed and the results are expected. Laxatives are made from such chemicals which increase the stool frequency, making it easier to relieve constipation.
How long do laxatives last – how they work?
Saline, lubricant, and stimulant laxatives are used to evacuate the colon for bowel and rectal examination. They might be supplemented by enemas but under certain situations and worse conditions. Other than oral form laxatives are also taken in suppository form.
How long do laxatives last – as per types of laxatives?
There are three basic categories of laxatives. They are:
- Stimulant laxatives
- Bulk-forming laxatives
All of the above-given laxatives work different and have different outcomes. How long do laxatives last can only be answered when you know about the type of laxative you are taking?
Osmotic laxatives pull fluids of the intestine in such a way that it might take days. This process increases the fluid contents of stool which helps to pass the blockage by converting it to diarrhea. It is quite possible that osmotic laxatives can cause dehydration, cramping, electrotype depletion and bloat due to gas building inside. Osmotic laxatives have hyperosmotic agents in them which stimulate the bowel movement. The oral form of osmotic laxatives take approximately 12 to 72 hours to work and the rectal form takes a few minutes to an hour to show its effect.
Stimulant laxatives are made of toxic and harsh chemicals and herbs which make intestinal muscles to contract and spasm. These are slightly redeeming which is why they work as quickly as a few hours but can also lead to diarrhea and the same problems associated with osmotic laxatives. One has to be very careful while using stimulant laxatives, as anoverdose can cause long term damage to intestinal linings. Now you can have an idea about how long do laxatives last if you overdose it. Other than the damage to intestinal linings, anoverdose of laxatives can cause lazy bowel syndrome where the patient suffers from chronic constipation caused by loss of bowel strength and muscle tone. These are the most powerful laxatives and should only be taken on the advice of your health care provider. The dosage must also be taken only according to the prescribed amount. They usually take around 6 to 10 hours to work. Patients, who have used stimulant laxatives longer than they were prescribed, damaged the haustral folds of thecolon which made the patient unable to move the feces on their own; which means the body gets used to the laxatives and the colon responds only to the laxative – it rejects to respond naturally.
The bulk-forming laxatives are made from absorbent material to increase the overall mass of stool. As the stool size increases, the bowel forces out the mass. The increase in stool mass is a good thing, but bulk-forming laxatives might also clog the bowels. If there is a need to take bulk-forming laxatives, they must be taken with lots of water. Keeping in mind the side effects of continuous use of laxatives, bulk-forming laxatives are the safest as they have the gentlest effects among other types of laxatives.
There is no specified answer to how long do laxatives last as it is all dependent on the severity of the patient’s condition and the dosage they have been recommended. When a patient first complains of constipation, the treatment starts from bulk-forming laxatives. If they do not work, then osmotic laxatives are prescribed and even if they also fail to show any progress then stimulant laxatives are given, which work eventually.
When to use laxatives?
Laxatives are usually used in the following conditions.
- Chronic immobility
- Acute constipation
- Chronic condition
- Bowel preparation
Laxatives respond according to the problem they are being used to treat. Sometimes, they take a few minutes to work and sometimes take a day or two. Patients who are taking laxatives are advised to intake a lot of water. Doctors recommend using laxatives for a few days, basically until the time your bowel movements return to normal. Taking laxatives has never been a great idea until they are much needed. Health providers also recommend treating constipation through natural ways and fiber rich food items. If you are suffering from diarrhea after taking a laxative, then it means you have overdosed the medication.
There surely are side effects of taking laxatives daily. There are a few less adverse effects of taking laxatives on a regular basis or for a long time.
- Postural dizziness
The worse case scenarios can lead to fatal electrolyte imbalances and acid base. The most common acid-base imbalance observed in patients is metabolic alkalosis. Other serious issues associated with reference to laxatives abuse are:
- Ulceration of colonic mucosa
- Inflammation of colonic mucosa
- Renal failure
- Pancreatitis failure
- Factitious diarrhea
People also use laxatives to lose weight, but they are unaware of the fact that laxatives affect the water of the body rather than working on the calories. This is the main reason why people using laxatives as a weight loss remedy have to face various skin problems.
Other than laxatives, medicine industry has developed a few other medicines which can help in this regard. They work differently as compared to laxatives, but the result usually comes out to be same. They have fewer side effects and have no direct effect on the gut. But, it is recommended to go as your doctor says, because he is the one who is completely aware of the situation and knows better than you think.