What exactly is fiber? Is a prescription just a really strong laxative? Should I really be taking these every day? Some people spend years dealing with constipation and belly pain, juggling multiple OTCs, without really knowing how they work.

Here’s a closer look at how some of the most common OTCs work, and a look at prescription treatment LINZESS.  

Common OTCs & How They Work

An illustration of a jar of Fiber Supplement.


Fiber pulls fluid into the intestine, bulking up stool and making it easier to pass. It can take a couple of days to begin working.

An illustration of a jar of Stimulant Laxatives.

Stimulant Laxatives

These stimulate muscles in the intestine to keep stool moving. They’re good for quick but temporary relief and shouldn’t be taken regularly.

An illustration of a jar of Stool Softener.

Stool Softeners

These draw water into the intestine to soften stool. They can take a few days to work, but be sure to take these with plenty of water.

Prescription bottle of LINZESS (linaclotide).

The LINZESS Difference

  • LINZESS isn’t a laxative. It works proactively to manage constipation and overall abdominal symptoms* (pain, discomfort, and bloating).
  • It acts locally in the intestine and is thought to work by calming pain-sensing nerves** and accelerating bowel movements.
  • When taken daily, relief is typically felt in about 1 week.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away. These are not all of the possible side effects of LINZESS. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

*Abdominal symptoms were studied in combination, not individually.

**This was seen in animal studies, and the relevance to humans is not known.


  1. Bruce, Debra Fulghum. “Safely Using Laxatives for Constipation.” WebMD. 13 May 2020, www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/laxatives-for-constipation-using-them-safely. Accessed 9 Sept. 2021.
  2. “Stool Softener-Laxative.” WebMD. www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-5718/stool-softener-laxative-oral/details. Accessed 3 Nov. 2021.

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