Diet, lack of exercise, stress and medications can cause constipation. Before you head to the drug store for relief, here are a few important things to know about laxatives, the different types and how each type works on the body. Laxatives are used to relieve constipation. There are four types of laxatives- osmotic, stimulant, bulk-forming and emollient. I will talk about the different laxatives in the next three blogs.
Osmotic or saline laxatives are usually made of salts or saline products, lactulose and glycerin. This type of laxative pulls water into the colon and increases water in the feces. This increased bulk stimulates peristalisis.
Sodium salts, magnesium salts and potassium salts are the three types of electrolyte salts found in osmotic laxatives. When taking an osmotic laxative it is important to ensure that the serum electrolytes are monitored to avoid electrolyte imbalance. Healthy renal function is necessary to excrete excess salts. This is especially true concerning magnesium salts, which should be avoided if a person suffers from renal insufficiency.
Lactulose is a saline laxative that is not absorbed by the body. Lactulose is used to draw water into the intestives. It also helps the body to retain water and electrolytes. It also decreases the ammonia level in the blood and is helpful to people with liver disease such as cirrhosis. Glycerin functions similarly to lactulose. It also increases what in the feces and large intestines which stimulate peristalsis. However, people with diabetes mellitus should not use lactulose stimulants because they contain glucose and fructose which can affect insulin levels.