Warning! Top 11 Consequences Of Laxative Abuse For Weight Loss

March 10, 2014

With obesity literally a huge problem and diets all the rage, you’re not alone if you think laxatives can help you slim down. The reality, though, is that laxatives do nothing to help you lose weight.

Calories already are consumed by the time the laxatives work, and the weight you lose is mainly water. What you will get by abusing laxatives are a host of medical problems. These are just a few.

1. Constipation


Stimulant laxatives work by artificially irritating the nerves within the large intestine, stimulating them to make the intestinal muscles contract. The contractions move your stool along and out of the body. Over time, the laxative can damage the nerves.

Additionally, by keeping the colon empty, you prevent the muscles from working as they should, so they end up weakening.

You have to rely on larger and larger doses to get the nerves to respond, and the muscles have trouble contracting. The end result is constipation, which can cause additional problems such as hemorrhoids and urinary incontinence from straining.

2. Diarrhea


Some laxatives help pull excess water out of the body into the intestine, keeping the stool extremely soft and moist so it’s easy to pass. If you take a very high dose of a laxative, the amount of water drawn into the intestine can be large enough to cause diarrhea.

This puts you at risk for dehydration. In some people, the frequent bowel movements that come from diarrhea also irritate the rectum and anus, resulting in sores, bleeding or pain while using the toilet. Diarrhea also can interfere with regular activities, as you have to take more frequent trips to the bathroom.

3. Dehydration


Laxatives can pull water out of the body in order to form a looser stool or add bulk. If you don’t drink enough water to compensate for this, dehydration easily occurs.

The side effects associated with dehydration are lengthy, including dizziness, fainting, confusion, sluggishness, weakness, fainting and confusion, just to start.

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This is a big issue for people who are trying to lose weight because they often don’t like to drink a lot. With their main focus being watching the scale, they frequently become afraid that they’ll gain too much water weight if they drink normally.

4. Cramping


Getting a stool to move out of the body requires muscular contractions. Laxatives force these muscular contractions to occur, often stimulating a response that is more intense than you normally would have. The muscles have a very hard time relaxing and cramp.

This side effect is only worse if you are already dehydrated, because muscles require water in order to function properly. Cramps are one of the most common side effects of laxatives, whether you are taking a recommended dose or not, but some laxatives are known for producing more severe cramps than others.

5. Nausea and Vomiting


Laxatives have the potential to cause upset stomach – they can irritate the stomach lining, especially if they are not enteric coated to prevent them from breaking down before reaching the intestine.

Some people find that the laxative they take makes them feel sick as a result. If the nausea is bad enough, you might dry heave or vomit. This is another route to dehydration, so combined with the loss of fluids through your bowels, it can dramatically increase your health risks.

Eating food before taking the laxative helps, but people who abuse them to lose weight often have a hard time doing this.

6. Electrolyte Imbalances


Electrolytes are substances such as potassium, calcium and sodium that carry an electrical charge in the body. They are necessary for your brain, nerves and muscles – including the heart muscle – to function.

When you abuse laxatives, you can lose too many electrolytes, which are flushed from the body with the water that the laxatives drain.

The resulting imbalance can harm your internal organs, leading to a wide range of complications depending on what areas of the body are most affected. Vomiting and nausea, mood shifts, fatigue and cramps are just some of the early warning signs.

7. Increased Infection/Illness Risk


The intestine normally is coated with a protective layer of mucus, which prevents the walls of the intestine from getting irritated. The intestines also contain a forest of good bacteria, which contribute positively to immune system function and overall health.

Laxative abuse strips away these bacteria and the protective mucus, leaving you more vulnerable to infection and irritation.

Some studies even suggest that abusing laxatives increases the risk of colon cancer, the idea being that long-time inflammation ups the odds that cells will develop abnormally during the healing process.

8. Bloating


Laxatives typically cause you to become dehydrated over time. The body naturally will try to protect itself under these circumstances. When you do drink, it will hold on to whatever moisture it can.You might find that you become very bloated, especially around your abdomen.

The discomfort that comes from this, combined with the fact you look more plump, can make you think that you need to take even more laxatives to flush water away, when in fact the opposite is true and you need to drink much more than you are. The body will let go of the “excess” once it knows there is no shortage.

9. Heart Issues


Laxative abuse removes precious electrolytes from the body, which can affect the function of the heart. Early on, the problem can manifest as occasional heartbeat irregularities, chest pain or shortness of breath.

Left unchecked, however, the heart might stop altogether. If you are not able to get medical help when this happens, you could die.

Even if you are fortunate and don’t have your heart stop, the abnormal rhythms can damage the heart, causing it to pump too much or too little and increasing your risk for heart-related problems later in life.

10. Kidney Damage


Your kidneys are responsible for removing a large amount of the waste the body makes, filtering your blood. The kidneys need a decent amount of water in order to go through this process.

When you abuse laxatives, however, dehydration can mean there isn’t enough water available for the kidneys to flush the waste out of the body through your urine as it should.

Over time, this damages the kidneys and can cause them to fail.If this happens, other areas of the body can be hurt and stop functioning properly, as toxins remain in the body.

11. Depression


Depression occurs with laxative abuse for two reasons. First, changes in electrolyte levels can influence brain functioning and mood. The knowledge that you are addicted to the laxatives or inability to change your behavior also might leave you feeling helpless or as though you have failed somehow.

Feeling sick and tired from taking the laxatives, combined with the isolation that the illness sometimes causes, can make you feel sad, as well.

Depression also can occur when your friends or family members know about the laxative abuse and treat you badly because of it instead of lending their support for recovery.


  1. Juci Shockwave

    May 4, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Don’t forget #12 Drastic weight gain… After one stops taking laxatives as a method for weight loss the body will hijack the brain, releasing hunger hormones and cause the individual to overeat, making the person weight more than what he or she started with. Laxatives are bad! Better off with a stomach virus/bug.

    • Jenna Porfirio Mcclure

      June 11, 2015 at 12:01 am

      Nice way to get ppl to stop taking laxatives! Thats why you cut down at first doing anything cold turkey is bad even if its somthing bad in the first place!

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