What are the potential adverse effects of self-medicating with laxatives in the treatment of constipation?

Updated: Jul 05, 2019
  • Author: Marc D Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Actual or perceived constipation typically results in self-medicating with various laxatives. Although laxatives may correct the acute problem, chronic use of these agents leads to habituation, necessitating ever-increasing doses that result in drug dependency and, ultimately, a hypotonic laxative colon. Melanosis coli from prolonged laxative use is an incidental finding at endoscopy.


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