Over The Counter Laxatives Cause 13 Deaths, Study Says

Over the counter (OTC) laxatives are lifesavers for anyone who has battled constipation. But in a new study, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) warns that these over the counter laxatives can be deadly if used improperly.

In order to get relief fast, many OTC laxative users are tempted to ignore the warning labels on their sodium phosphate products. According to the FDA’s report, more than one dose in a 24 hour period can cause serious harm to the constipated users body and not more than three days worth of use. And the individual will have more issues than just blockages.

In the study, doctors and physicians discovered that 54 different people suffered very serious side effects from improper use of the sodium phosphate over the counter laxatives. Another 13 people died, including one child. The most at risk individuals include anyone taking kidney medication, high blood pressure medication, anti-inflammatory medication, or children under two years of age.

Mona Khurana, M.D., a medical officer in FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development and a pediatric nephrologist says regarding children, “Caregivers should not give these products orally to children under age 5 years without first asking a health care professional. Both caregivers and health care professionals should avoid the rectal use of these drug products in children under age 2 years. These warnings against use in young children are listed on product labeling.”

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The FDA warns especially against repeated use of an over the counter laxative even if it does not produce the desired result. Repeated usage can cause dehydration and serious kidney damage. As suggested on most warning labels, constipated users should seek medical attention if the over the counter laxatives are not working. “Fleet” laxatives can be taken orally or rectally, but users are warned to read the labels carefully.