Taking Magnesium Citrate For Constipation
If you've ever had constipation (and you must have, if you're reading this), you know it can be uncomfortable, painful, and downright annoying. Those with this ailment of the digestive system often find themselves seeking relief, and one form that can help is magnesium citrate (sometimes referred to as citrate of magnesia or milk of magnesia).
What Is Constipation?
Before you start treating your constipation, it helps to understand it. There are varied symptoms of constipation, and they can include one or more of the following –
- Three plus days without a bowel movement
- Difficulty passing bowel movements
- Hard or lumpy stool
- Inability to empty the bowels
- Extra straining when having bowel movements
- The need to use your hands to remove stool from your rectum
While constipation can be a normal process of the digestive system, if It goes on for too long it can cause problems. There are also many different reasons for constipation, including medications, stress, and diet.
If you've been constipated for weeks, you could have chronic constipation. This ailment can cause anal fissures, hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, and fecal impaction.
What Is The Cause Of Constipation?
There are many things that can lead to constipation. Some of them are minor, while others are major. In fact, constipation can sometimes be a sign of another health issue – which is why it is important to discuss your bathroom habits with your doctor (as uncomfortable as that might be).
Aside from serious, and not so serious, health conditions – some of the things that might be causing your constipation include –
- Eating an improper diet – Some foods can cause problems with the digestive system, including heavy dairy items (like cheese) and sugar.
- Dehydration – When you don't have enough fluids running through your system it can mess up your digestive system as a whole. Always stay hydrated.
- Not exercising – When you're not up and moving it can be difficult for your digestive system to do its job. Fitness helps get “things” moving.
- Some medications – There are some medications that can cause constipation, or sometimes the opposite (diarrhea).
- Health conditions – From pregnancy to diabetes, there are all sorts of health issues that can lead to constipation. If you're diagnosed with a chronic illness and suffering from constipation, talk to your doctor and see if your illness might be the culprit.
- Colon or rectal issues – Blockages and nerve problems in your colon or rectum can also cause constipation, as it may be difficult for you to pass your bowel movements (this can cause a back-up in the system, which can be painful and dangerous).
Constipation And Magnesium Citrate Can Help
If your constipation is mild and has only lasted a couple of days, trying a treatment like magnesium citrate may be enough to help get things flowing again. Before you try this treatment, however, you should consider a few things.
- How long have you been constipated? – If it's been a week since your last bowel movement, you might want to discuss the issue with a doctor prior to trying any home treatments. If there is an underlying cause of your constipation, you will want to treat more than just that particular symptom.
- Do you have any health issues? – Since there are not only health issues that can cause constipation, but also ones that can be affected adversely by magnesium citrate, it's wise to discuss this treatment with a doctor before taking this over-the-counter medication. People with kidney disease, vomiting, and magnesium or sodium restricted diets shouldn't take magnesium citrate for relief.
- When did you last visit your doctor about digestive issues? – Does your doctor even know about your stomach and bowel issues? By discussing them, you can work together to find out what is causing your constipation and how to deal with it more permanently.
- What other medications are you on? – Magnesium citrate can have negative interactions with some medications, including those used to treat HIV. This is another reason to discuss its use with a medical professional first.
Once you know it is safe to use magnesium citrate for treating your constipation, you'll want to know how to use it, and when to use it. Magnesium citrate is meant to treat occasional constipation, and it will not stop you from being constipated again in the future.
Milk of magnesia or citrate of magnesia can come in different names, but it all works as an osmotic laxative. It helps your bowels relax while pulling water into your intestines, which helps to soften up the stool. Soft stool is more comfortable to pass than hardened stool.
As a gentle laxative, you should feel a natural need to “go,” rather than an urgent one. There is no prescription needed for this treatment, although it is often prescribed prior to colonoscopies and other medical procedures.
Properly Dosing Magnesium Citrate
Magnesium citrate can be found in liquid and tablet forms. Often the tablet form contains calcium, so it's always wise to go with the liquid form instead. The tablet form is better if you want a regular supplement for boosting your magnesium, rather than as a relief measure for constipation.
You'll find instructions on the package that will let you know how and when to take your magnesium, but generally, you'll use about 10 ounces of the liquid magnesium taken with about 8 ounces of water. For children 12 and under, use a half dosage of medicine with the same amount of water (lowering the does overall). You'll also want to consider talking to your doctor about how much to take depending on age and the underlying issue of your constipation.
Side Effects Of Magnesium Citrate
Magnesium citrate is generally safe to take for anyone, though it does depend on your age and overall health. You also want to consider the medication you are currently on and any contradictions because of them (your doctor or pharmacist can help with this).
Some people may experience mild or moderate, and even sometimes severe, side effects to this medication. Here are some signs you should be looking out for, and if you experience any of them stop the medication and see your doctor immediately.
- Extreme stomach pain and cramping
- Blood in the stool (shows up as black)
- Severe case of diarrhea
- Fainting or dizziness
- Feeling weak or lethargic
- Sweating uncontrollably
- Allergic reaction – including difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat or glands, and hives
- Low blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat
- Feelings of depression or confusion
In fact, if you notice any changes in your normal feelings or behaviors, visit the doctor. There are other signs of adverse reactions that may be less common.
Want To Prevent Future Cases Of Constipation?
If you're tired of dealing with constipation and you want more than just some temporary medicinal relief, there are some of the things you can do to help keep your digestive tract and your bowels running more smoothly.
- Visit your doctor regularly – By getting annual checkups and having a doctor that knows your health history, you are more likely to find out what's causing your constipation. When you have a cause, you can work on a more permanent solution, instead of only briefly masking symptoms.
- Consume a healthy diet – The right diet can always help ensure regular bowel movements and better overall health. Eat more whole, raw, and fresh foods and cut back on salt, sugar, and overly processed foods.
- Increase fiber – Fiber is one of the best ways to help keep your bowels working properly. You can take a supplement, or you can eat more fiber-rich foods, like cereal and vegetable smoothies.
- Stay hydrated properly – Hydration is about more than just drinking something, it's about drinking enough water. You are mostly made up of water, and you sweat that water out. It needs to be replenished to keep your system, including all of your organs, running optimally.
- Exercise – A regular exercise routine can help keep your system running properly as well. All you need is 30 minutes a day minimum, 6 days a week. Change up your routine, and always take a day off for recovery (especially after intense workouts).
- Don't wait – When you've got to go, go. Holding your bowel movements can also lead to constipation.
Some Final Thoughts On Magnesium Citrate For Constipation
If you're having constipation often, discuss it with your doctor. That's the best way to find out what's causing the issue. Until the problem is solved, magnesium citrate can help you feel less discomfort and spend less time wishing you could go.