What Are the Symptoms of Laxative Withdrawal?

Symptoms of Laxative Withdrawal

Symptoms of laxative withdrawal appear following prolonged or excessive usage of these drugs. These are transient, typically mild symptoms.

One class of drugs used to treat constipation is a laxative. These are mostly employed temporarily.

While most individuals consider the short-term use of laxatives to be safe, there are potential hazards, particularly if laxatives are used excessively or for other objectives, including weight loss.

Laxative withdrawal symptoms may occur if you have previously abused laxatives or if you have taken these items for longer periods and in larger quantities than recommended. These are some crucial details to talk about with a physician.

Getting help for laxative overuse

Seek assistance from a mental health professional if you or a loved one is experiencing laxative overuse or misuse. The National Alliance for Eating Disorders provides an online search engine for treatment choices in addition to a licenced therapist-staffed helpline during the day.

What are the symptoms of stopping short-term laxative use?

Usually, laxatives are administered for a maximum of one week at a time. The intention is to cease taking them as soon as the symptoms of constipation subside.

The symptoms of laxative withdrawal are unrelated to short-term, widespread use. Even if you take these drugs infrequently, negative effects are still possible. Among them are:
  • bloating
  • cramps
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • dehydration
  • flatulence
Laxative side effects, in contrast to withdrawal symptoms, are typically minor and disappear when the medicine is stopped.

What are the symptoms of stopping long-term laxative use?

Stopping long-term laxative use may result in worsening constipation and bloating. Your body is attempting to return to normal by doing this.

Additional signs that could exist include elevated:
  • incontinence (inability to control bladder or bowel movements)
  • abdominal pain
  • gas
Most laxative users can reverse long-term negative effects when they cease using them. However, some patients may have ongoing digestive issues, such as kidney damage and bowel obstruction.

Laxative withdrawal weight gain

When using laxatives for a brief period to relieve constipation, stopping their use is unlikely to result in weight gain.

It is possible to gain a little weight when laxatives are administered improperly in an attempt to lose weight. However, any weight that is gained again comes from fluid retention rather than body fat.

Is it possible to become dependent on laxatives?

Although laxatives by themselves aren't thought to be addictive, dependence on these drugs is a possibility. This might be the case if you're taking them for something other than constipation, such as an undetected medical illness like inflammatory bowel disease.

When laxatives are taken for purging or weight loss, some varieties may be abused more than others.

With stimulant laxatives, which function by contracting the muscles in the stomach to release faeces, this might be the case. Due to the way osmotic laxatives pull water from the body and into your stool, they are occasionally misused for weight loss objectives.

What are the symptoms of laxative overuse?

In addition to the symptoms of withdrawal, it's critical to take laxative overuse symptoms into account. Electrolyte abnormalities and intestinal blockage might result from using laxatives too frequently or for too long. These may result in a range of symptoms, including:
  • dehydration
  • diarrhea
  • severe abdominal pain
  • irregular heartbeat
  • numbness
  • paralysis
  • seizures
  • nausea
  • worsening gas or constipation
  • muscle weakness
Overuse of laxatives has also been connected to clubbing and edoema.

Furthermore, a 2018 study's researchers discovered a possible link between the usage of laxatives and a higher risk of colon cancer.

How is laxative overuse treated?

The duration of drug use and the severity of any side effects resulting from misuse determine the specific course of treatment for laxative abuse.

For example, a doctor would advise you to taper off laxative use gradually to reduce withdrawal symptoms. They might also advise you to completely quit using laxatives. Therapy and other mental health therapies may be necessary if overuse is connected to an eating issue.

A 2023 study discovered that abusing laxatives can damage your gut flora. You could consult a physician in these situations to see if taking a probiotic supplement could be beneficial.

Eating disorders

Anybody, regardless of gender identity, race, age, socioeconomic background, or other identities, can be affected by disordered eating and eating disorders.

Not only may exposure to diet culture induce them, but any combination of biological, social, cultural, and environmental factors can also cause them.

Think about consulting a medical expert or getting in touch with the National Alliance for Eating Disorders, which provides a 24-hour helpline manned by certified therapists as well as an online resource for finding treatment programmes.

When to contact a doctor

Consider contacting a doctor straight away if, even after using laxatives, your constipation persists for longer than a week. This can be a sign of a more serious underlying medical issue that requires attention beyond what laxatives can provide.

On the other hand, here's how to get assistance if you've used laxatives excessively or for a lengthy period.

Getting help for symptoms after stopping laxatives

With laxative withdrawal, symptoms like bloating, increased constipation, and temporary water retention are all possible. These ought to disappear by themselves.

However, you should try to call a doctor for assistance if your symptoms are getting worse and you've had them for more than a few days. If you have water retention, they may recommend a diuretic.

Getting help for laxative overuse

You might be sent to a gastroenterologist for treatment of an underlying digestive problem or to a mental health expert for treatment of an eating disorder, depending on the causes behind your excessive laxative usage.

Consult a physician if you notice that you are taking laxatives for constipation for more than a week. However, if you or a loved one is having trouble abusing laxatives excessively in an attempt to lose weight, you might want to think about visiting a mental health expert.


See a doctor if you're having trouble with withdrawal symptoms or if you have a laxative addiction.


What happens if you stop taking laxatives?

fluid retention, constipation, bloating, and temporary weight gain (from water and stool).

Do laxatives cause depression?

Over time, laxative misuse can cause depression

How do you reverse a laxative overdose?

Call 911 or one of your local poison control centers right away.

How much weight can you lose with laxatives?

A few pounds at most

Why is my constipation not stopping?

Not enough fiber in the diet

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