When constipation slows you down, your doctor may recommend a stool softener. At Walgreens, we offer a full line of products to help you get relief from occasional constipation. Stool softeners come in a variety of easy-to-use forms. Talk to your doctor, learn about your options and discover constipation-relief products that are right for you or your family.
What Is a Stool Softener?
Stool softeners work by helping to soften a hard stool so it's easier to pass. Unlike some laxatives and drugs that treat constipation, stool softeners don't stimulate the intestinal tract and are generally less likely to cause cramping as a side effect. The most common active ingredient in stool softeners is docusate sodium, an ingredient doctors and other medical professionals frequently recommend to patients suffering from constipation. Stool softeners may also be helpful after surgery or after childbirth when you want to minimize straining. Some doctors also prescribe stool softeners for people with hemorrhoids to reduce the discomfort of a bowel movement. Stool softeners are usually recommended for adults and children age six and older. Before giving a stool softener to a child, talk to a pediatrician first and follow their recommendations. Stool softeners usually take effect within 72 hours. Always read the directions before using a stool softener and only use the recommended dose.
Types of Stool Softeners
There are stool softeners that come in an easy-to-swallow soft-gel and liquid-gel form you take with a glass of water. They're also available in a gel-cap form. There are also gentle options formulated for the special needs of children. Some of these products are suitable for children age two and older. Simply mix the stool softener with your child's favorite beverage. These products offer the same safe and gradual relief of constipation as adult stool softeners in a dose that's generally considered appropriate for a child. Also available is a stool softener combined with senna, a vegetable-based laxative. This combination may offer overnight relief of constipation and combines the power of a stool softener with a natural laxative.
Stool softeners are made for relief of occasional constipation. If you have frequent constipation or you don't get results from non-prescription stool softeners, see your doctor or health care provider.