Stool softeners are the medications that are prescribed for people who experience occasional constipation. Mostly, they are more useful for people who have a history of heart diseases, high blood pressure, hemorrhoids, rectal surgery, or even women who just delivered babies. The working mechanism of stool softeners is simple; they soften the texture of the stool and smoothen the bowel movement. This alleviates the need for straining the muscles of anal region and prevents any damage to the rectum.
Stool Softener Drugs
They come in various forms of capsules, tablets, and syrups. The dosage will be as per your physician's recommendations. Usually, they are not to be consumed for longer than a week, unless your physician advises you to do so. Also, the tablets and capsules should be consumed as a whole, with a glass of water. You can take it with a glass of milk or fruit juice, to camouflage its bitter taste. In case you missed the dose, you should take it as soon as you remember it. If it's almost the time for the next dose, then you can skip it and take the next one on time.
Stool Softener Side Effects
They may induce a few side effects in some people. These can be easily treated with proper medical intervention.
The ingredients in the stool softener do not act as laxative on the digestive system. They only make the stool soft, so as to pass it easily. However, these ingredients have the potential to cause stomach or intestine cramps. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water, while you are on stool softeners, helps to relieve stomach cramps.
This is particularly true for stool softeners that are in liquid form. The ingredients in the liquid may irritate the throat, while the offensive taste may also bother quite a few people. You can opt for the tablets or capsules, only after consulting your physician. Alternatively, you may also disguise the liquid in some other beverage.
Nausea and Vomiting
This is one of the most common side effects of a stool softener as reported by many people. Excessive vomiting may lead to dehydration and can further have serious consequences. Hence, it is best to immediately consult your physician in such cases. Your physician may prescribe you an alternative medication with minimal side effects.
Sometimes, the stool softener may loosen the bowels too much, so that it results in watery stool or diarrhea. This again, may lead to dehydration. Drinking adequate water may help cure the condition. However, you may take a physician's opinion on whether to continue the treatment or not.
Allergic reaction as a stool softener side effect is not common. However, some of the affected people may report it, in rare cases. Allergies are in the form of hives, skin rashes, swelling of hands, and tongue, etc. If the allergic response is accompanied by difficulty in breathing, you may need to call emergency services.
There are certain precautions that need to be taken while going for stool softeners. If you are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant during the course, then you'd better get your physician's opinion. Also, follow all the instructions that come along with the drug, to avoid any side effects.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.