Tag Archives: risk

“Why do you take laxatives?”

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I’ve been getting this question a lot lately. There are many risks associated with laxative abuse. Would you like to see the list? I’m going to share it with you anyway.

  • Intestinal injury
  • Melanosis coli
  • Gastric bleeding
  • Gastric ulceration
  • Gastritis
  • Esophagitis
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain, severe cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Gas
  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Bowel tumors
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Kidney damage
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Aggravation of hemorrhoids
  • Colon failure
  • Dehydration
  • Pancreatitis
  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Bowel incontince
  • Ulceration of the bowel
  • Fatty infiltration of the liver
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Hypoalbuminemia, hypoproteinemia or calcium deficiency caused by malabsorption of nutrients, which can cause weakening and softening of the bones
  • Shutting down of the immune system
  • Organ damage
  • Bowel tumors
  • Palpitations
  • Heart attack
  • Death

Disturbance of electrolyte and mineral balances. Sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus are electrolytes and minerals that are present in very specific amounts necessary for proper functioning of the nerves and muscles, including those of the colon and heart. Upsetting this delicate balance can cause improper functioning of these vital organs.

Severe dehydration may cause tremors, weakness, blurry vision, fainting, kidney damage, and, in some cases, death. Dehydration often requires medical treatment.

Laxative dependency occurs when the colon stops reacting to usual doses of laxatives so that larger and larger amounts of laxatives may be needed to produce bowel movements.

Internal organ damage may result, including stretched or “lazy” colon, colon infection, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and liver damage. Chronic laxative abuse may contribute to risk of colon cancer.

 

Isn’t that lovely.

So why would anyone take this chance? Why would anyone subject themself to this? What on earth kind of motivation could there possibly be?

The exact reason is probably different for each person, but here are some of my reasons.

  • They help me get rid of the food. Regardless of whether they eliminate any calories, they eliminate the food waste that’s inside me. I want it out. They do that.
  • They help me feel empty and lighter. This feeling is addicting.
  • It makes me feel like I’m “doing something” about the “problem”. Sometimes, I just need to feeling like I’m actively doing something about whatever is bugging me (having eaten, being fat, etc) and taking some pills right then helps me. I feel calmer and empowered.
  • To reduce water weight. I understand that this causes dehydration, but I don’t want that water inside me. Don’t ask me why because I’m not really sure myself. I just “need” it not inside me.
  • They speed up digestion. Whether this actually causes any fewer calories to be absorbed or not seems to be up for debate, but if I don’t take them, it can take days or even a week or two before what I eat exits. That’s just way too long. I want it to pass through me as quickly as possible.
  • They make me feel clean. Knowing there aren’t feces inside my body makes me feel cleaner.

I feel like I had more reasons earlier when I was planning this, but they escape me now.

So, the next question, “Why do you continue to take laxatives even though you’re not eating anything?”

That is an excellent question, and I hadn’t actually considered why until I was asked. Partly for the water weight reason listed above and partly for the “doing something” reason. But also because when you’re addicted to something, it doesn’t really matter if there’s any logic to it. My brain just says, “take laxatives, now” and then I do. Like I said, I hadn’t even questioned it.

Please know that I am not in any way trying to justify my use of laxatives, just to explain some of the reasons why I take them.

Laxative abuse is dangerous and serious, and I wouldn’t want anyone else in the world to abuse them. Now if I could just convince myself it’s ok to stop taking them.

 

Mortality Rates

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“Mortality Rates:

Although eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder,  the mortality rates reported on those who suffer from eating disorders can vary considerably between studies and sources. Part of the reason why there is a large variance in the reported number of deaths caused by eating disorders is because those who suffer from an eating disorder may ultimately die of heart failure, organ failure, malnutrition or suicide. Often, the medical complications of death are reported instead of the eating disorder that  compromised a person’s health.

According to a study done by colleagues at the American Journal of Psychiatry (2009), crude mortality rates were:

• 4% for anorexia nervosa

• 3.9%  for bulimia nervosa

• 5.2% for eating disorder not otherwise specified”

(http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/)

It frustrates me when people act like (or outright say) that anorexia is either the only dangerous eating disorder, or is the most dangerous. EDNOS is by far the most dangerous by every estimate I’ve seen.

The thing with anorexia is that malnutrition is pretty easy to link to the eating disorder. Things like heart failure or internal bleeding from bulimia are a lot harder to link to it, unless the coroner is informed that the patient had an eating disorder, and then is still often not put as the cause of death.

While there is no definitive number of eating disorder-related deaths, all eating disorders are dangerous. Never assume that because you or a loved-one doesn’t have anorexia that you are “safe” or in less danger. You may actually be at higher risk.