Magnesium Citrate is a hyperosmotic saline laxative used to treat occasional constipation and empty bowel before certain bowel surgery or procedures like colonoscopy. It works by drawing waters to small intestine and usually result in bowel movement within 30 minutes to three hours. It can be bought over the counter without prescription in oral tablet, pills or liquid form, under brand names like Citromag, Citroma and Liquiprep.
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Mild constipation should always be improved through lifestyle changes like increasing fiber in diet, fluid intake and exercise regularly. If that is not helping, try bulk-forming laxatives and stool softeners (emollient laxatives) which are generally safer for long term use before taking magnesium citrate.
Bowel preparation is a process of clearing the bowel of all fecal material before a diagnostic procedure or surgery. From the afternoon a day before the procedure, bowel-clearing substances like magnesium citrate or combined with laxative bosacodyl (Dulcolax) then need to be taken. Drink only clear liquids and take no solid food or milk products until procedure is done.
Magnesium citrate works best on empty stomach and followed by at least eight ounce of fluids. It taste terrible and is recommended to be chilled in refrigerator before use or mix with your favorite beverage to improve taste. Follow dosage and directions on the product labels based on your age. It is not recommended infants below two years old, and those with heart disease and serious kidney problem. However, it is safe for use by pregnant woman and nursing mothers.
Do not take magnesium citrate for more than a week without doctor consultation. Avoid taking antibiotics within 2 hours before and after this product as it may decrease the absorption of antibiotics. Among these antibiotics include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), doxycycline (Vibramycin), eltrombopag (Promacta), levofloxacin (Levaquin), minocycline (Minocin) and tetracycline.
Side Effects and Risks
Magnesium Citrate is a stool softener that generally did not contain harmful substance, it is not a stimulant laxative. Some of the side effects may include abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea, electrolyte imbalance, nausea, and vomiting. Serious side effects are unlikely unless it is used in excessive dosage and too frequently, in which it may cause loss of normal bowel function and dependent on it.
Extreme overdose or severe allergic reaction if happen, can cause serious complication, stop taking it and consult your doctor immediately if you exhibit below symptoms:
- No bowel movement within 6 hours after taking the medicine
- Severe/persistent diarrhea leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances
- Severe/persistent abdominal pain, bloody stools or rectal bleeding
- Painful or difficult urination
- Unusual decreased urination or increased thirst
- Flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling)
- A light-headed feeling, like you might pass out
- Weak or shallow breathing, slow/irregular heart-beats, tightness in the chest
- Rash, hives, itching or swelling (especially of the face, mouth, throat, lips, or tongue)