Curbside Consultation of the Colon: 49 Clinical Questions

Brooks D. Cash, MD, FACP, CDR, MC, USN

Question 20: What Do I Tell My Colleagues Who Are Concerned About Neuropathic Changes From Laxative Use? (continued)

Richard Saad, MD

Laxatives are the most widely used medications in both the short- and long-term treatment of constipation. They are available by prescription as well as over-the-counter, and their primary therapeutic goal is to increase the frequency and ease of bowel movements. Laxatives work in a variety of ways within the gastrointestinal tract and are therefore categorized based on their mode of action. They are assigned to the stimulant, osmotic, bulkforming, surfactant, or alternative/other categories. Stimulant (irritant) laxatives alter electrolyte and fluid transport and/or bowel motility resulting…