Loading up on laxatives could cause problems beyond constipation

By Shayna Brouker • Published: March 19th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Feeling a little stopped up lately? Perhaps too much cheese and not enough fiber, and you need a little something extra to feel regular again? You may turn to laxatives. It’s not a comfortable topic, but it’s a problem many people face. Constipation is typically defined as having two or fewer bowel movements each week. Taking laxatives to loosen up is a natural choice, but according to the Food and Drug Administration you should take it easy when it comes to laxatives. Too many could cause serious side effects like kidney and heart problems, extreme dehydration and changes in electrolyte levels. Doctors recommend taking no more than one dose daily.

Laxative overdose is most dangerous for young children and people over the age of 55. Dehydration, kidney disease, bowel obstructions or bowel inflammation can increase the risk of constipation. Taking water pills, diuretics, hypertension medications and popular pain relievers could also affect kidney function and cause stoppage. But there are some natural remedies to keep in your routine to avoid ever having to take a laxative.

First, exercise regularly to stay regular. A healthy metabolism keeps things moving. Stay hydrated by drinking two to four extra glasses of water a day. Warm liquids will also help. Foods with lots of fiber like bran, prunes, beans, fruits and vegetables are a good choice, too. Mild stool softeners are also a safe step to take, but be sure to guzzle plenty of water when taking them. Also, make sure to go when you feel the urge. Holding it in can cause you problems, too.

If you must give a laxative to a child under five, talk to your health care provider first. It should be a last measure.

Staying regular may be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but it’s important for you and your health to keep all your systems … well … regular.