Laxative abuse is caused by misuse or overuse of laxatives for a number of reasons. Some individuals use laxatives to lose weight, while others believe they don't think they can eliminate without them. The use of laxatives for weight control is considered abuse. This condition is often found among individuals suffering from eating disorders such as bulimia or binge eating. Laxative abuse is most common in young adults and older adults. The condition affects the gastrointestinal system and may lead to system damage. The weight effect of laxatives is due to water loss and is not permanent. Learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of laxative abuse may help to prevent damage to the digestive tract and break dependency.
Suffering from bouts of chronic constipation or diarrhea are common signs that laxatives are not being used properly. Laxatives should not be used on a regular basis. Gas and bloating are additional symptoms that the digestive system is not on track.
Believing that an individual cannot eliminate a bowel movement without the use of a laxative is another key indication that they are being misused. Chronic use of laxatives promote dehydration, which makes elimination even more difficult.
Cramping and shaking muscles are an indication that the body is suffering from dehydration caused by electrolyte imbalances. Tremors and spasms may also occur.
Bleeding into stools is another symptom of laxative abuse, caused by the drying out of the intestinal tract caused by the constipation-inducing effects of the laxitive. This may cause damage to nerve endings in the colon that results in infection.
Vomiting or an overwhelming sense of nausea are signs that the body is attempting to rid itself of toxins or substances that it deems harmful. Individuals experiencing this or any of the above symptoms should seek help from a physician for advice.