OTC Stool Meds Question

Updated February 3, 2022 in IBS

This is a super basic question, but I thought this community would have way more insight into stuff like this than others. My sleep patterns and food choices have been less than stellar lately, and my mental health has been rough. So, I imagine all of those factors are wreaking havoc on my body in different ways, and one issue I'm dealing with lately is my bowel movements. They are more rare than they should be and definitely not the right shape, consistency, etc. Maybe TMI, but y'all understand, right? I was at Target looking at laxatives and saw stool softeners, as well. What's the difference between the two? Or, are they different names for the same thing?

1 - 4 of 4 Replies

  • Wendy_LExpert
    Care Partner of Adult

    Only because you admitted your food choices haven't been great lately, I'd strongly encourage you to make the changes you know you need to make to improve that area before jumping to laxatives. You posted about water rich foods in a previous post, and that would be a good place to start. (Prune juice can actually do wonders too.)

    I don't pretend to know the true difference between laxatives and stool softeners, but I believe that chemicals made in a laboratory should be the last resort.

    February 3, 2022
  • Fair enough! I’m one of the odd ducks who actually enjoys prunes. I should work them back into my snack choices. Thanks for the reply, @Wendy_L!

    February 3, 2022
  • Jackie_ZExpert

    You could also try fruit juices like apple juice. Those can work wonders. My assumption about the two is that a laxative actually encourages your system to have bowel movements and that a stool softener just helps to soften the stool so you can have a bowel movement on your own. Laxative = you're going to have a BM SOON. Softener = Eventually it will be easier to have one because you won't be super constipated.

    I'm def no expert either though!

    February 15, 2022
  • Thanks, @Jackie_Z ! That definitely makes sense.

    February 15, 2022
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