Here's what you should know about laxatives.
Dr. Kerstin Kemmritz finds that some customers are embarrassed to talk about constipation, so the pharmacy team tries to overcome the fear of laxatives. They are not "the devil's stuff" as was thought 20 years ago, and the habituation effect does not usually occur when used correctly.
Address the root causes of constipation
Acute constipation can be treated with various active ingredients, but it must be clarified if there is an emergency. A doctor should be consulted if the digestive problem lasts for weeks or if the bowel habits suddenly change. The causes of constipation are often simple, so it is advisable to change lifestyle first. Laxatives can stimulate the intestines in various ways, and some are suitable for long-term use.
What helps against constipation?
Bulking agents stretch the intestines.
Vegetable substances such as flea or linseed bind water and swell, stretching the intestines and stimulating them. They are especially beneficial for milder cases of constipation and pregnant women.
Only those who consume 1.5-2 liters of liquid per day can rely on swelling substances, but pharmacist Kemmritz advises taking them with a glass of water or stir them into yoghurt. Too much does not harm.
Synthetic agents with a triple effect
Synthetic substances such as macrogol, lactulose, or sorbitol can be more effective than swelling agents for constipation due to their double effect of drawing water into the intestines, increasing stool volume, and stimulating the intestines.
However, the effect can wear off over time, says pharmacist Kemmritz: "The bacteria in the intestine seem to get used to the 'supplementary food', so that the initial dose is no longer sufficient." The patients normally do not notice any habituation effect here.
Vegetable substances such as castor oil, aloe, alder buckthorn, and senna leaves, or chemical substances such as bisacodyl or sodium picosulfate combine several laxative effects. Kemmritz recommends taking drops to find the dose, but longer intake may only be done under medical supervision.
Eberhardt, Wolfram. “Das Sollten Sie Über Abführmittel Wissen.” Apotheken Umschau, 4 Mar. 2013, www.apotheken-umschau.de/krankheiten-symptome/symptome/das-sollten-sie-ueber-abfuehrmittel-wissen-710129.html.
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