Diuretics-assisted treatment of chronic laxative abuse
Hypopotassemia with acid–base imbalance caused by laxative abuse is one of the disorders that nephrologists can be consulted for. Although laxatives are not supposed to form psychological dependence in themselves and their abuse should be cured theoretically by just finishing the overdose, the patients often resist treatment due to unpleasant symptoms such as edema and worsening constipation. Thus, chronic laxative abuse is often regarded as a drug addiction. We report a successfully treated case of chronic laxative abuse, where drastic reduction of laxatives was achieved by applying diuretics. After drastic reduction of laxatives, diuretics were added until they eased edema and bloating so that the patient could feel them to be tolerable, paying attention to lab data such as potassium and renal function. The diuretics, which substituted for laxatives in fluid control, could be tapered off over 3 months without any withdrawal symptoms or a need of additional laxatives. Our experience of simple but successful treatment of chronic laxative abuse emphasizes importance of physical management and suggests that there are cases where the two different kinds of drugs, laxatives and diuretics, can practically be regarded as swappable in the treatment of laxative abuse. This presentation should contribute to accumulation of knowledge in how to treat chronic laxative abuse where no standardized method is established yet.
KeywordsLaxative abuse Senna Edema Diuretics Pseudo-Bartter syndrome
Conflict of interest
All the authors have declared no competing interest.
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