Fiber laxatives are available by prescription or over the counter.
A fiber laxative helps people suffering from constipation. A laxative helps loosen the stool and increases the chances of bowel movements. Some people use laxatives to speed up the amount of time it takes to eliminate waste from the body. Fiber laxatives are also known as bulk-forming laxatives and can help with other conditions besides constipation. People use laxatives to help provide relief during pregnancy, before a surgery, after a surgery to help avoid straining and to get the body back on the right track after a bout of poor nutrition.
There are six types of fiber laxatives:
The Mayo Clinic describes a fiber laxative as one that is not digested by the body, but rather it absorbs liquid in the body, specifically in the intestine, and swells into a large, soft bulky mass. The mass then stimulates the bowels to move, which helps relieve constipation sufferers.
Laxative users can either get a prescription for a laxative or use an over-the-counter brand, like Metamucil. No matter the type of laxative, users should drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day when taking laxatives. Since many fiber laxatives are powder or granular form, it's important that users don't try to take the laxative dry. The package directions will instruct users how to take the product and gives the suggested amount of liquid to take with the laxative.
It is important that fiber laxative users take the laxative properly to ensure it delivers the desired effect. Since a fiber laxative works by creating a bulky mass, if a user does not drink enough fluids, the mass can cause an intestinal blockage. The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking at least eight ounces of water or juice when taking the laxative, and then again after taking the laxative. Users can expect to see results over the next couple of days. RX List recommends not using a laxative for more than seven days consecutively.
There are a number of other laxative products on the market, all of them producing the same result with some differing side effects. According to Medical News Today, the other types of laxatives include:
There are certain times a person shouldn't take any form of laxative, whether fibrous or medicinal. Anyone with severe abdominal pain that may indicate appendicitis or inflamed bowel should seek medical advice. Also, laxatives are not for people who only have one or two days of a missed bowel movement. One side effect of laxatives may include dependency. Some people become so dependent on laxatives their body has a hard time eliminating waste without one. Other side effects include skin rashes, intestinal blockage and difficulty swallowing. Any laxative user should seek medical advice if experiencing any of these side effects.