As I have written about in the past, I have an eating disorder. I know this, acknowledge it, and accept this is an area in which I need help. Eating disorders are complex things and one aspect I’ve not touched upon here is my dependence/addiction to laxatives. Laxative abuse is considered a form of purging and the problems the continued use of laxatives can be many and life threatening. Some of the common effects of long-term abuse of laxatives include:
- Dehydration. Dehydration can cause weakness, blurry vision, fainting, kidney damage, and (in cases of severe dehydration) death.
- Electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are minerals (sodium, potassium, calcium, etc.) that are in body fluids in very precise amounts and ratios. Electrolytes are responsible for proper functioning of nerves and muscles. Laxative abuse can upset a person’s electrolyte balance and cause improper functioning of vital organs, like the heart!
- Laxative dependence. This is when the colon requires larger and larger doses of laxatives to produce bowel movements. People often become so dependent on laxatives that their body loses the ability to produce bowel movements on it’s own without the aid of laxatives.
Now I know that I often have problems with dehydration, to the point that others often comment about how dehydrated I am and that I need to drink more water. Funny thing is I drink lots of water on any given day, in the area of 2-liters of water per day is my norm and that’s not including other liquids I drink each day either. Laxatives work by pulling water out of the body into your digestive track, which you then expel when you go to the bathroom and since I take laxatives on a daily basis…
I am now dependent upon laxatives to keep my bowels going and I am at the point of needing far more than the recommended dose for them to work anymore too. I’ve tried stopping (and was forced to while inpatient recently) but then I don’t have any bowel movements for 5 to 6 days and the only way to have one at that point is to again take laxatives.
As for electrolyte imbalance the only way for me to know if they are out whack is to have blood work done specifically to check them. Given my scare this morning with my racing heart (which has continued throughout the day) I decided it might be time for a visit and talk with my general practitioner (GP) about my laxative addiction. This morning I was thinking my racing heart rate might be due to my new nightmare medication, but if that was the case the racing heart rate would have gone away as the medication wore off and since it hasn’t there’s a good chance it’s something else causing the problem.
To that end, I have made an appointment with my GP and will take things from there. Baby steps, right? I find that if I address things in smaller pieces than trying to do it all at once, it’s not as intimidating (but only slightly so).
Peace, love, and contentment,