Do not take any type of laxative:
- if you have signs of appendicitis or inflamed bowel (such as stomach or lower abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, soreness, nausea, or vomiting). Instead, check with your doctor as soon as possible.
- for more than 1 week unless your doctor has prescribed or ordered a special schedule for you. This is true even when you have had no results from the laxative.
- within 2 hours of taking other medicine because the desired effect of the other medicine may be reduced.
- if you do not need it, as for the common cold, "to clean out your system" or as a "tonic to make you feel better."
- if you miss a bowel movement for a day or two.
- if you develop a skin rash
- while taking a laxative or if you had a rash the last time you took it. Instead, check with your doctor.
If you notice a sudden change in bowel habits or function that lasts longer than 2 weeks, or that keeps returning off and on, check with your doctor before using a laxative. This will allow the cause of your problem to be determined before it may become more serious.
The "laxative habit"—Laxative products are overused by many people. Such a practice often leads to dependence on the laxative action to produce a bowel movement. In severe cases, overuse of some laxatives has caused damage to the nerves, muscles, and tissues of the intestines and bowel. If you have any questions about the use of laxatives, check with your health care professional.
Many laxatives often contain large amounts of sugars, carbohydrates, and sodium. If you are on a low-sugar, low-caloric, or low-sodium diet, check with your health care professional before using a laxative.
For patients taking laxatives containing mineral oil:
- Mineral oil should not be taken often or for long periods of time because:
- gradual build-up in body tissues may create additional problems.
- the use of mineral oil may interfere with the body's ability to absorb certain food nutrients and vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Large doses of mineral oil may cause some leakage from the rectum. The use of absorbent pads or a decrease in dose may be necessary to prevent the soiling of clothing.
Do not take mineral oil within 2 hours of a stool softener (emollient laxative). The stool softener may increase the amount of mineral oil absorbed.
For patients taking laxatives containing a stimulant ingredient:
- Stimulant laxatives are most often associated with:
- overuse and the laxative habit.
- skin rashes.
- intestinal cramping after dosing (especially if taken on an empty stomach).
- potassium loss.