A stool softener should be taken when constipation and straining must be avoided so stools are easily passed. Stool softeners can be useful for people with hemorrhoids, anal fissures, hernias, high blood pressure and during recovery after childbirth and certain surgeries, and for many other health conditions, according to WebMD.
Stool softeners are intended to prevent constipation rather than treat it and can be helpful for reducing pain caused by hardened feces during defecation in individuals recovering from heart attack, pelvic, abdominal or rectal surgery, and during prolonged bed rest, according to WebMD. Additionally, stool softeners are beneficial for countering the constipating effects of certain medications such as narcotics and for those affected by health conditions that cause constipation to be more likely such as diabetic neuropathy and irritable bowel syndrome, according to MedicineNet.
The correct dosage of stool softener to use is dependent upon the medical condition being treated and a patient’s response to treatment therapy, according to Medicine Net. Stool softeners should only be used when required, not taken longer than one week unless directed by a doctor and discontinued if diarrhea develops. Additionally, stool softeners are generally not intended for use in children under ten unless instructed by a physician, according to MedicineNet.