Constipation can become quite frustrating and distressing. Repeated episodes of uncomfortable bowel movements and excessive straining during bowel movements may cause increased pressure on the anal veins and lead to complications like piles or fissures. The contributing factors may vary from a lack of physical activity or liver disorder to an insufficient intake of fiber and fluids. The bowel discomfort usually becomes aggravated by long hours of sitting, certain medications, dehydration, and stress.
Although the best way to deal with constipation is by modifying lifestyle and dietary choices, the use of stool softeners may at times become necessary. Among the various softeners, the natural stool softeners and bulk forming agents are generally better and safer than regular laxatives. Taking prescription-based laxatives can become a habit and repeated use may cause inflammation to the lining of the intestine and even damage to the colon.
Stool softeners aid in the digestive process and offer a home remedy for bowel problems. These softeners often work to improve the bowel by increasing the water holding capacity of the stools and thus increasing the bulk. The softened feces move by stimulating natural contractions, thus alleviating constipation.
One common stool softener is bisacodyl, which is available under the brand name Dulcolax® or Correctol®. It is usually taken orally at bedtime. Another softener prescribed is colace or docusate sodium. Colace stool softener is available in 100 mg tablets and should be taken twice a day. A few other natural softeners include senna, phenophthalein, aloe vera, and mineral oils. As with all herbal supplements, it is better to check with an experienced and qualified practitioner before starting on any of these natural softeners.
There are also many natural bulk forming agents such as bran, psyllium, plantain, and methyl cellulose. These natural softeners help by adding bulk to the stool and facilitating a better passage of feces.
Stool softeners are perhaps the best way to combat constipation and must ideally be taken in small doses with plenty of water. People who suffer from constipation should drink at least 10 to 12 glasses of warm water throughout the day. However, liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee, soft drinks, and alcohol will worsen one’s symptoms by causing dehydration.
Some stool softener home remedies include consuming bananas, prunes, apricots, dates, and figs. These foods are high in soluble fiber, which absorbs and retains water, stimulating peristalsis. Last, but not the least, regular exercise is a must. It is a habit that can go a long way in regularizing your bowel movements. For those who have made diet and lifestyle changes, and are still constipated, stool softeners and laxatives or enemas can certainly provide relief.
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