Abuse of Laxatives

Head | Psychiatry | Abuse of Laxatives (Disease)


Laxative abuse is a method used when a person attempts to get rid of unwanted calories, lose weight, “feel thin,” or “feel empty” through the repeated, frequent misuse of laxatives.

Causes and Risk factors

Laxative dependency occurs when the colon stops reacting to usual doses of laxatives so that larger and larger amounts of laxatives may be needed to produce bowel movements.

Often, laxatives are misused following eating disorders, when the individual mistakenly believes that the laxatives will work to rush food and calories through the gut and bowels before they can be absorbed. Unfortunately, laxative abuse is serious and dangerous – often resulting in a variety of health complications and sometimes causing life-threatening risks.

Laxative abuse can cause serious health consequence such as upsetting electrolyte and mineral balances. Sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus are electrolytes and minerals that are present in very specific amounts necessary for proper functioning of the nerves and muscles, including those of the colon and heart. Upsetting this delicate balance can cause improper functioning of these vital organs. Severe dehydration may cause tremors, weakness, blurry vision, fainting, kidney damage, and, in extreme cases, death. Dehydration often requires medical treatment.

Internal organ damage may result, including stretched or “lazy” colon, colon infection, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and, rarely, liver damage. Chronic laxative abuse may contribute to risk of colon cancer.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment for laxative abuse includes stop taking laxatives, high fiber diet and alternative treatment for constipation...

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