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Difference Between Laxatives and Stool Softeners

Laxatives vs Stool Softeners

People take stool softeners and laxatives to get relief from constipation. So if laxatives and stool softeners give relief from constipation, what is the difference between the two?

Stool softeners are only a sort of laxative. One can come across different types of laxatives such as bulk-forming laxatives, stimulant laxatives, saline laxatives, and lubricant laxatives. Stool softeners differ from laxatives in their effectiveness, functions, and side effects.

Among laxatives, stool softeners are thought to be the safest. The important thing is that one should drink a lot of liquid while taking stool softeners.

Let us consider some of the properties of laxatives. The bulk-forming laxatives dissolve in the intestines causing swelling which leads to bowel movements. When using the stimulant laxatives, the intestine wall is irritated which induces bowel movements. Saline laxatives function by drawing water into the intestine so that stools are softened and bowel movements are induced. Lubricant laxatives make a coating around the stools which makes them easier to pass.

Unlike these types of laxatives, stool softeners soften the stools. A big difference that can be seen between stool softeners and laxatives is that the former does not stimulate bowel movements. The stool softeners do not irritate the walls of the intestines. Stool softeners are mainly given to people who should not strain or stress when passing stools.

Both stool softeners and laxatives come with almost similar side effects. It is always advised to take both the stool softeners and laxatives for only a short term. Belching, cramping, diarrhea, nausea, gas, excessive thirst, difficulty in swallowing, weakness, itchy skin, rashes, and breathing difficulty are some of the side effects associated with stool softeners and laxatives.

Summary:

1. One can come across different types of laxatives, such as; bulk-forming laxatives, stimulant laxatives, saline laxatives, and lubricant laxatives.
2. Stool softeners are only a type of laxative.
3. Stool softeners differ from laxatives in their effectiveness, functions, and side effects.
4. Among laxatives, stool softeners are considered to be the safest.
5. A big difference that can be seen between stool softeners and laxatives is that the former does not stimulate bowel movements.
6. Stool softeners are mainly given to people who should not strain or stress when passing stools.
7. Stool softeners do not irritate the walls of the intestines.


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