For fast-acting relief, stimulant laxatives are generally recommended, according to WebMD; these include popular brands such as Feen-a-Mint, Ex-Lax, Correctol, Dulcolax and Senokot. Stimulant laxatives have a stimulating effect on the intestinal lining and cause the stool to pass more rapidly through the colon, and some also increase the hydration of the stool to make it easier to pass. Notably, prunes, which are dried plums, have a similar effect.
Osmotic and hyperosmolar laxatives are also quite popular, and they work by drawing fluid into the intestine and making the stool softer. Some of the most trusted brands include Miralax, Kristalose, Milk of Magnesia and Fleet Phospho-Soda. When using this type of laxative, it is important to drink a lot of water to increase the effectiveness of the laxative and reduce side effects of its use, including intestinal cramps and gas.
Another option is emollient laxatives, which are also commonly referred to as stool softeners. These laxatives are comprised of a surfactant that works to soften the stool. It can take up to a week to see results with this type of laxative. A top brand is Colace.
If laxatives are needed to ensure regularity, using fiber as a first-line of defense is recommended, as advised by WebMD. Any ongoing constipation should be evaluated by a physician to determine its underlying cause.