Signs of Laxative Abuse

Laxatives can help relieve constipation but it need to be taken cautiously under doctor supervision. Misuse or overuse of laxatives product can lead to various side effects and laxative dependence. Taking products that combine different types of laxatives such as stimulant and stool softener can be harmful and causing side effect.

Side Effect of Wrong Laxatives Usage

Prolonged usage of laxative can cause appendicitis, decreased bowel function or even bowel obstruction. Frequent use of laxatives for weeks or months can reduce colon’s ability to contract and cause constipation for days.

In this article, list of both common and next level of signs that indicate one has been started to abuse laxatives are covered. Free from laxatives might be helpful if you found yourself having some early symptoms listed.

Common Signs and Symptoms

General sign of Laxative Abuse Syndrome (LAS) includes having bloody stools, severe cramps and pain or rectal bleeding. Here are some common signs and symptoms that may help to identify them.

  1. Bloody stool due to damage and infection to nerve ending in the colon
  2. Cramping and shaking of muscles due to dehydration caused by electrolyte imbalance
  3. Diarrhea alternating with constipation; gas and bloating are additional symptoms
  4. Vomiting or having severe urge of nausea
  5. Weight loss

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Self Testing

Interesting enough, our poop actually tell us a lots of thing about our health, whether we have constipation issue or become dependence to laxatives. Check out the video below and find out how you can perform self check using this 3 methods: frequency, form and color of own bowel movement.


Lab Testing

Apart from what listed above, there are other LAS symptoms which can only be diagnosed through blood serum test, colonoscopy or other medical testing. Among them are:

  1. Melanosis coli – dark pigmentation of colon wall which can be identified through colonoscopy

    pseudomelanosis coli
    Melanosis coli
  2. Cathartic colon – gastrointestinal disorders caused by frequent use of stimulant laxatives (> 3 times per week for at least a year) with symptoms such as bloating, feeling of fullness or abdomen pain.
  3. Anorexia nervosa – eating disorder where individual desire to lose weight more than anything else
  4. Metabolic alkalosis – acid-base disorder where pH of tissue elevated beyond the normal range (7.35-7.45)
  5. Hyperuricemia – abnormal high level of uric acid in blood stream
  6. Hyponatremia (Sodium depletion) – low sodium concentration (salt level) in the blood
  7. Hypokalemia (Potassium depletion) – low potassium concentration in the blood
  8. Hyperaldosteronism – too much aldosterone that lead to lowered levels of potassium in the blood
  9. Calcinosis – formation of calcium deposits in any soft tissue
  10. Water-electrolyte imbalance – abnormalities in the levels of sodium, potassium, and/or calcium