Possible Side Effects of Laxatives

laxative side effectsLaxatives can have a variety of side effects. Do not take them lightly.

Side Effects range from mild to serious. Best to try and get off laxatives alltogether if you can. It might seem like a daunting task, specially if you have been on them for a very long time. But your body will be grateful if you do and if you read through this website further you will find out that Constipation can be treated successfully with natural supplements, which are much less taxing on your body.

Serious Side Effects

Notify the health care provider as soon as possible if any of these symptoms occur:

  • burning on urination
  • excessive thirst
  • muscle cramps
  • paralysis
  • pink or red colored alkaline urine and stools (phenolphthalein)
  • red to violet, red to brown, or pink to red, colored alkaline urine (senna, cascara, and/or danthron)
  • yellow to brown colored acid urine (phenolphthalein, senna, and/or cascara)
  • weakness
  • respiratory difficulty breathing
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat difficulty swallowing
  • skin itching rash
  • gastrointestinal blockage
  • sudden changes in bowel habits that last longer than 2 weeks
  • heart and blood vessels irregular heartbeat
  • nervous system
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • irritability
  • lightheadedness
  • unusual tiredness

Minor Side Effects

These effects need no attention unless they become annoying:

  • increased thirst
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat irritation
  • skin irritation (rectal area)
  • belching
  • cramping
  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • nausea

When Not to Use Laxatives

Do not take any laxatives if signs or symptoms of appendicitis, intestinal blockage, or inflamed bowel are present. Laxatives may become overused. Do not take for more than 1 week.

Do not take if not needed. Do not take if a rash develops.

Laxatives that contain cascara, phenolphthalein, or danthron may pass into the breast milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics considers cascara and senna usually compatible with breast-feeding. Ask your health care provider for advice before using them if you are breast feeding.

Consult the ingredients before use as some contain sugar in various forms.

Use only as long as necessary and never over a week unless instructed to do so by the health care provider. Sometimes the bulk laxatives or other laxatives are given on a long-term basis for certain medical conditions.

The elderly have possible increased risk of side effects. Some elderly have a tendency to overuse laxatives. As a person ages, the body systems start to slow down. What was a normal bowel pattern in youth may not be normal in older age.

Do not use laxatives to maintain this youthful bowel pattern. A bowel motion every 2 days is ok when you are older and eat less!

Proper diet and exercise is important to prevent constipation. Roughage such as grain, breads and cereals, bran, leafy green vegetables, and fruit are an important part of a balanced diet. Fluids are also important and 6 to 8 glasses of liquid should be consumed each day. Constipation may be made worse by eating such foods as sugar, candy, puddings, pastries, cake, and cheese.

If on a special diet, such as low sugar or low sodium, check the ingredients in the laxatives, because some of them contain sugar and or sodium.

Consult a health care provider before giving a laxative to a child less than 6 years old. Mineral oil or bisacodyl should not be used in children less than 6 unless otherwise directed.

Do not use mineral oil or castor oil during pregnancy.

Some stimulant laxatives may cause unwanted effects in the mother if incorrectly used. If kidney function is not normal, do not take laxatives containing magnesium, potassium, or phosphates.

Some laxatives contain sugar or sodium, which may cause problems during pregnancy.