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Medication info sheet: Laxatives

Last updated on November 22nd, 2021

Laxatives are a group of different drugs, which may be used to treat constipation. Laxatives may be purchased with or without a prescription. Some common laxatives are:

Type of Laxative Bowel Generic Name(s) Brand Name(s)
Stimulants Bisacodyl
Stool Softeners Docusate
Mineral Oil
Glycerin Suppository
Colace, Surfak
Agarol, Lansoyl
Bulk Forming Agents Psyllium Mucilloid Metamucil, Fibrepur, Prodiem
Water Attracting Magnesium Salts
Milk of Magnesia, Citromag
Cephulac, Acilac
Enemas Phosphate Enema Fleet


Laxatives are available as tablets, capsules, powders, granules, oral liquid, rectal suppositories and enemas. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will recommend the agent(s) and dosage form(s) which may best treat or prevent your constipation.


Why these Medications are Used

These medications are used to prevent or treat constipation, which may be a result of the drugs you are taking (eg. pain relievers), or after surgery, or prolonged bedrest.

How do you take this Medication

It is important to take this type of medicine as instructed. You may need to use more than one medication and also to change your diet to relieve your constipation and to help prevent it from returning. Contact your doctor or nurse if you haven=t had a bowel movement for 3 days.

Some of these medicines will help you to have a bowel movement within 6-12 hours (stimulants), while others may take up to 48 hours (softener, lubricant). Suppositories and enemas should act within 15-60 minutes. You must eat or drink some food to make stools.

Stimulant laxatives will provide a soft or semi-fluid bowel movement.

Some bulk forming laxatives are available as a dry powder. These products must not be swallowed as a dry powder. Mix the powder into a full glass of water or fruit juice, then drink it. Do not breath in the dry powder. (Prodiem7 granules are swallowed as a dry dose, followed by water or juice). Drink plenty of fluids between doses.

Mineral oil laxatives should not be taken within 2 hours of meals, since the oil can interfere with absorption of nutrients and vitamins in your diet.

A high fibre diet may help to prevent or reduce constipation. Your doctor, nurse or dietician may suggest diet changes to help you prevent constipation.

Senokot Laxatives


Tell your doctor if you suffer from colitis (inflammation of the colon).

DO NOT use Docusate preparations along with mineral oil.

Laxatives should not be taken if you have abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or fever.

Enemas and Bisacodyl suppositories should not be used if you have rectal bleeding.

It is extremely important that you tell your doctor if you are taking other medications, such as blood thinning drugs, Digoxin, Ciprofloxacin, or Tetracycline before taking laxatives.

Diabetic patients should be aware that some laxatives contain large amounts of sugar.

Keep all medications, including laxatives, out of the reach of children.

  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea

Check with your doctor that you are taking the right dose.

Tell your doctor or nurse if this bothers you.

  • Confusion, irregular heart beat
  • Unusually tired or weak
  • Rectal bleeding, blistering, burning
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Skin rash, itch
  • Belching, gas
  • Avoid suppositories and enemas.
  • Don’t use bulk-forming fibre-type laxatives.
  • Avoid stimulant laxatives.
Tell your doctor or nurse as soon as possible. Tell your doctor or nurse as soon as possible.

Tell your doctor or nurse if this bothers you.

Tell your doctor or nurse if this bothers you.

For more information on these medications, please call your doctor or nurse.

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