A stimulant laxative is a substance intended to stimulate a bowel movement and help relieve constipation. In some cases, however, these substances are also used to prepare a person for bowel surgery. Unlike some other types of laxatives, stimulant laxatives don’t work by forming a bulkier stool or by softening them alone. In most cases, they actually increase the muscle contractions vital for having a bowel movement, and they may soften stools as well. In fact, many stimulant laxatives produce a loose stool that is similar to what a person may pass when he has diarrhea.
There are many forms of stimulant laxative a person can take. They are often found in pill or liquid form, but can also be found as powders or suppositories. A person who needs a stimulant laxative can typically purchase one over the counter, but a doctor may prescribe this type of medication as well. In most cases, stimulant laxatives are meant to be taken along with a full glass of water, and some may be more effective if they are taken on an empty stomach. In many cases, a person is advised to take stimulant laxatives right before going to bed, as they will often produce a bowel movement once a person gets up in the morning; some may take a shorter or longer time to act, however.
In most cases, people are advised against using stimulant laxatives for more than a few days to a week, except when a doctor recommends longer usage. Likewise, individuals are typically warned against exceeding the recommended dosage listed on over-the-counter medications or the prescription label. Exceeding the recommended dosage may prove harmful for the body. Additionally, doctors typically warn against using stimulant laxatives as weight loss agents. This may lead to dependency and other adverse health effects.
Taking a stimulant laxative is usually an effective way to produce a bowel movement. Unfortunately, however, this type of laxative is associated with a range of side effects. For example, a person who is on a stimulant laxative may experience uncomfortable stomach cramping, nausea, and diarrhea; some people may even vomit while they are taking this type of laxative. It is also possible that a person will experience more serious side effects while on this type of laxative, including pain, bloody stools, and dizziness. If a person notes such symptoms, he is usually advised to call a doctor right away.