One of the Causes of Constipation
Trapped in the vicious cycle of laxative abuse, they were crying for help :
"It's really painful. I'm so bloated and look pregnant. I have been taking laxatives for nearly 6 months. Since I came off them 3 days ago, I haven't 'went' "
"I was told...if i got cleared out, my intestine would shrink to normal size. Then i could wean myself off of laxatives" - He ended up taking laxatives for 3 years.
Laxative abuse is a behavior of an individual taking laxative drastically in order to have frequent bowel movement. Taking laxative drastically means using a laxative repeatedly or using it over a long period of time. Most of the time, it is associated with some mistaken beliefs. In other cases, that individual may be suffering from psychological condition like eating disorder.
Let's take a moment to ask ourselves:
All these are considered an act of laxative abuse.
Abuser or Victim?
People who would abuse laxatives are those who do not have enough fiber or water in their daily meals. Some may have the mistaken belief about slimming. Others are having an eating disorder or bloating problem. On the other hand, some medications do cause constipation as side effect.
Inducing diarrhea with the use of laxative in order to prevent food absorption and hence avoid body weight gain is a common misconception. Not just women, I believe there are men out there also having this wrong concept and abusing laxative. Even commercials target this group of people and produce herbal laxative tea claiming as slimming tea, which further misleads the public.
Using laxative to flush bowel content does not significantly change the absorption of the food in the body.
Most laxatives work near the end of the bowel where they affect the water and salts absorption into the body. By then, most of the foods have already been absorbed, what is left are indigestible or undigested food residue.
And of course, laxatives do not work on the existing fat which is already stored in the body. Since laxatives work in expelling our body water and salt content, it may give us a sense of losing weight.
And this ‘weight loss’ we perceived is only temporary. The pounds of water loss will return as the body rehydrates again after liquid intake. In addition, this wrong perception will further cause us to take more and more laxative in an effort to match the original weight loss feeling. It is no surprise to find people using laxative to make them emotionally feel thinner.
Before Getting a Laxative...
Some people also mistakenly believe that they need laxative at a point of time when they eat and no bowel movement. The thing is some people may have poor eating habit. Eating sporadically or eating too little will result in a sense of constipation. This is because there is too little bowel content to be formed as stool to be expelled. In the case of poor eating habit and the person add in laxative, this will even disrupt their bowel movement as the laxative is forcing nothing out but the deprivation of the body fluid, hence watery stool formed.
Can you imagine the stimulant laxative forcing the stool to move along, causing the colon to contract out of its natural rhythm? So remember, someone feeling constipated does not necessarily mean that person is constipated. Also, bloating accompanies constipation in many cases. There is anti-flatulent substance which can be used to ease the bloating, rather than taking laxative in disrupting our bowel movement.
If the constipation occurs to be one of the side-effect of the medicine you are taking, you may need to discuss your concern with your prescriber. Simply taking laxative to cope with that side-effect of the medicine is not wise.
Most laxatives are not meant for long term use. Hence, laxative abuse can have serious negative consequences on the user whereby they will only realize it later. This might be laxative habit – a dependency on laxative to have bowel movement. This is because a long term laxative use will cause reflex constipation, as the colon muscles lose the ability to eliminate its content without the use of the laxative.
Those abusing laxative would have symptoms varies from one individual to another. The most common symptoms are:
Some may experience :
Overall, it is the result of disrupting the natural bowel movement and function.
Laxative abuse not only does not help in losing weight, this act, moreover, holds a threat for long term complications. Depending on the type of laxative being abused, the amount used, and how long they have been used, some medical complications of laxative abuse are reflex constipation, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, edema and impaired bowel function.
Hmm impaired bowel function? Laxative abuse could also be a possible cause of irritable bowel syndrome, according to a naturapathic doctor.*
These medical complications should not be taken lightly, as they can cause severe bodily harm.
*"Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A Naturopathic Approach+ By Dr. Jeannie Doig, N.D., Special to Westerly NewsAugust 13, 2009
Do you or someone you know and care about struggle with laxative abuse? Share it! Let us help or be helped - whether you are still coping or seeing positive results, bearing in mind seeking qualified medical help is the ultimate and necessary step to take.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors about their laxative abuse experience...
How do I wean myself off of Laxatives, retrain the bowl and regain control?
This isn't a story so much as it is a plea for help! I have suffered on and off for 5-7 years with constipation. Starting out with only …
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I first took a laxative (Dulcolax) late last year when I was struggling pretty severely with IBS. A few weeks later that I took them again but …
An On-Going Fear
Chronic constipation is something I've battled with my entire life-- not once do I ever remember making a BM on my own. Even as a baby, my parents …
How I Crawled Out of the Abyss Of Laxative Dependency Not rated yet
I used to take colon cleanse capsules containing cascara sagrada every other day or a cleansing enema to have a bowel movement. My diet …
life & laxatives Not rated yet
Two days til I will be opening myself up to a eating disorders counselor. I'm afraid to let anyone in on my laxative abuse. I'm …
59 y/o woman Not rated yet
I have been taking Nature's Secret-Super Cleanse since 1994. I started experiencing more constipation and bloat in April, 2011. I went …
Nearly died Not rated yet
I took more and more laxatives over a 2 year period until I was taking as many as 200 a day (a combination of dulcolax, senna, coloxyl, movicol, bowel …
D.R. Not rated yet
I am a 52-yo woman with a 35 year history of eating disorders. I was bulimic from the age of 14 to 26. I abused laxatives (and diuretics …
What are the solutions for people who have permanently impaired their intestines? Not rated yet
I have been abusing senna for over or about 10 years now. My bowel function has finally stopped working on its own, I don't know how many days it …
Difference betwwen Dependency and Abuse
According to Pharmacology for Women's Health , By Tekoa L King, Mary C. Brucker - Laxative dependency is using a laxative to treat constipation in order to defecate daily. When too much laxatives are used, muscles of the colon are damaged. In the case of the elderly ones, Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance are potential risks.
Whereas laxative abuse happens when women with eating disorders misuse purgative laxatives to lose weight. This act of abusing laxatives can result in laxative dependency among other bodily harms.
How to Conquer Laxative Abuse?
1. Don't expect Miracle Pill - If drug is the cause of constipation, change it or the dosage.
2. STOP. YES, STOP - Cold turkey or, gradually. If you opt for the latter, change the darn laxatives to psyllium products.
3. Patience with Withdrawal Symptoms - Such as constipation, gas, nausea and bloating. For goodness sake allow time for your body to re-learn how to function without laxatives.
4. Drink, eat and exercise sensibly.
Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness & Surgery by H. Winter Griffith, Stephen Moore, Kenneth Yoder