Are laxatives harmful to your health?

Many medications can have adverse side effects. While people are used to that coming from prescription medication, it’s also quite true of many of the over the counter remedies that people often rely on. Laxatives are one of the most easily obtainable drugs out on the market. There is no real regulation on them and often they are misused with some devastating side effects.

Mismanagement and abuse of laxatives is a surprisingly large problem. A study performed in the United Kingdom showed that 4 out of every 5 people with an eating disorder had misused laxatives in an effort to lose weight. That’s not the only way that laxatives can potentially be a danger though.

Many people use laxatives as an attempt to alleviate pain that is occuring in the stomach and intestines. This attempt to increase bowel movement is often misplaced as the pain may not be where the people believe it is coming from. Others are suffering from constipation and can’t handle the pain.

Whether a person is misusing laxatives, or even using them for their real purpose, it’s possible that the people using them have no idea what’s going on in their body after they do. Speaking with a doctor is the very best way to learn the truth about laxatives. It’s good to know the truth about laxatives and the things they do.

1. Bloating of the Abdomen

This happens for essentially any laxative a person might turn to. Either the laxative works by attracting water from other parts of the body to the colon, or by forcing extra contractions of the colon to work the stool through quicker.

However, the bloating from this can be quite severe. It’s often very painful to touch and any movement can cause grave discomfort. In addition to being uncomfortable, it can also make it hard to slip on pants!

2. Cramps and Gas

While these aren’t traditionally considered as really bad side effects, they are definitely something that makes people feel uncomfortable. Laxatives work by turbocharging the body. When this happens, the things that it does naturally happen at a faster pace. This is where the concentrated gas seems to stem from.

In addition, a person is likely to suffer from some potentially severe stomach cramps. This combination of gramps and gas is likely to create an unwanted audio symphony in your body as the laxatives work their way through your system.

3. Electrolyte Reduction

So laxatives work by attracting water into the bowels. However, they don’t just take water. The water in the body is full of nutrients commonly referred to as electrolytes. When the water is removed from one area, the electrolytes go with it.

What does this cause? People will often feel a lot of the symptoms associated with dehydration. They will find themselves incredible thirsty, unable to urinate and suffering from dry mouth. If these appear after taking a laxative, it’s important to speak with a medical professional soon after.

4. Kidney Health

People who use laxatives incorrectly can be at the risk of dangerous kidney problems. In fact, a group of people using sodium based laxatives ended up with severe dehydration that ended in death. The people who passed away misused laxatives. They took more doses than was healthy. This resulted in a severe dehydrated state.

Kidney problems can become quite severe. They can be the result of many different diseases. People who already have kidney issues need to be very careful when they are choosing to use laxatives.

5. Colon Health Struggles

One issue with consistently using laxatives is that the colon suddenly stops being able to do the job it’s meant to. It’s supposed to be able to tighten and release to move stool out of the body. This takes the remaining nutrients from food as it passes out undesirables.

But when someone consistently uses a laxative, the colon can become weaker and not tighten as well or efficiently. Like the muscles in the body, the colon needs exercise. It needs to keep functioning. If it doesn’t, then it loses the strength it had before.

Rather than reaching for a laxative consistently, there’s other choices. There are foods which act as natural laxatives. Choosing beans or pears with water can assist. Check with your physician to determine the right course of action if you are feeling severely constipated. Also consider visiting a dietician. If the causes of constipation are diet related, they may be able to assist in designing a plan to avoid suffering anymore.

Medical Disclaimer: The information presented on are for general informational purposes only, the writer may not necessarily have medical or scientific training. This information is not reviewed by a physician. Some of these articles may contain information about treatments or the use of a pharmaceutical product that has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment. Results on any service or treatment may vary from person-to-person.

This article should not be considered as medical advice. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional advice from a certified doctor or other qualified healthcare provider. Always speak with a doctor before starting, stopping, or changing any prescribed care or treatment plan. provides this reading material as a helpful resource, but it should never be a substitute for professional medical advice, care, diagnosis or treatment from a medical physician, a certified personal trainer, a therapist, a dietitian, or a nutritionist. If in a medical emergency, call a doctor or dial 911 immediately.