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stool softners vs. laxatives- what's the difference?

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I'm not wanting to try either one but I've always wonder what the difference is? I know laxatives give you diahrea, what do stool softners do.

Edited Apr 13 2007 23:51 by united2gether
Reason: moved to new Health & Support forum
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First, I'd like to thank you for not trying either one. :)

As for the answer, I'm no expert, but as far as I know, laxatives just make things move a bit quicker, causing a build-up so you absolutely have to go. Stool softeners, on the other hand, break things up a bit so they're easier to pass. (Gross, huh? ^^;)

When constipated, though, there are plenty of natural alternatives that are probably much safer (as long as you use them in moderation :)), such as prune juice.
If you must use one of them (for the appropriate reason) you should use the Stool softeners. I have had digestive problems all of my life, and I have been on soo many prescriptions for the problem. (fiber, water, prune juice, ect don't work for me like they should, due to my condition)

I can tell you from my own experience, The laxitives are hell. It stimulates the bowel so much by irritating the lining in your bowel. This can be extremely uncomfortable and painful. After a while your body becomes immune to them if you take them for too long. Your body will need more each time you use them in order to go. After a while, your bowel will not respond to the "urge" unless you take the laxitives. Like I said laxitives are hell.

Stool softeners, on the other hand, should be used only when absolutely neccessary. They allow fluid(water) to stay in the bowel to suround the fecal matter (gross, I know) Some of the 'mater' absorbs the water in the bowel which makes it easier to pass because it is softened. It is generally considered safe as long as it is taken as directed and when it is needed (like if you haven't went in a week or 2).

I hope this answers your question.
I too have had to take prescriptions for chronic constipation and have been hospitalized for obstructions so I avoid any of these like the plague.  I found softners inafective it does what it says just softens the stool to make it easier to pass.  So if you have very painful hard stools thats what you need - usually these would be round.  Laxatives stimulate the bowel to make you go - if you get diarrhea then you do not need them to begin with.  It should only produce a "normal" movement.

For me I discovered eating lots of fiber rich whole foods and drinking lots of water is important.  Also increase your vitamin c for a few days.  The fiber supplements are a waste of $$$ use real foods - fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

When I start to get worried I take "Colon Clenz" its a natural supllement I get mine from Walmart in their vitamin aisle.  I take 1 -2 at night and it doesn't cause any stomach aches  cramping and does wonders. 
My grandmother took laxatives (by percription) and they basically make you go to the toilet. It makes it normal.

Stool softers soften... so it's easier.  
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i'm not here to tell you what the difference between the two are.. but i will tell you what works for me...

i tried whole flax seeds, honey, a whole lot of fiber.. and tons of water... didnt seem to work... and i'm not a case of chronic constipation either... i just started getting constipated once i reduced my diet... not even immediately.. however i remember that i really used to push hard to take stuff out... sorry about being so gross... and then i read up on all these articles at various websites... i know straining is not a good idea anymore.. i wanted to go as natural as possible with laxatives... and i started a lot of change in my diet... like adding raw veggies and fruit to my meals too... and taking flax seeds, taking honey... switching to soy milk... and now i know what did the trick... i bought a bottle of vitamin c supplements.. and i started taking that at the same time i made all these changes.. because i was on the verge of having IBS... that works for me... i started with 1000 mg of vitamin c after dinner... then i cut it down to 500 mg... now i go to the bathroom everyday.... and the waste is soft... not hard...

i did a lot of reading on vitamin c supplements... and looks like .. they aren't harmful to you... as long as you dont take it in mega-doses (5000 mg +) ... mega doses could create imbalances in your body due to lack of other vitamins and nutrients...

anyway... back to the subject... a lot of recommendations led to having 500 mg of vitamin c with 400 mg of magnesium... but since the vitamin c did the trick for me... i dont take any magnesium... it was also recommended that for prevention sake... you should take vitamin c everyday...

vitamin c infact protects the lining.. .and aids digestion... so it doesnt do anything like laxatives do to your body... i'm scared to stop it though... because one day i didnt take it... and i didnt go the next morning... so i went back to vitamin c...

since it does no harm to my body... i dont see why not... and it was also recommended as prevention... so i will stick to it...

attached is on the articles which gives a lot of info on the big C 76/is_n73/ai_17381633
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and oh by the way... all the problem i had earlier.. was not because of eating less... i used to eat anywhere between 1200 to 1500 calories... now i eat between 1500 to 1600 calories... and i come under sedentary to light activity category.
albaughman, very good question! I found the answers to your question very useful and the given tips will definitely help me with my constipation. Before reading posts here, I did not have a clue that Vit C can help you to go!  I can easily take a whole week without going #2 while eating enough!  The only time I can go daily like everybody else is when I am taking something to make me go.  With CC helping me eating healthier including the increase in fiber, plus the Vit C that I am going to incorporate in my diet I am hoping to see good results so that I can stop depending on other stuff. I drink plenty of water (at least 100 oz/day) and eat at least 3 servings of veggies and fruits, so, on that side I am all covered.

I love CC!!
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