A- A+

Mineral Oil for Constipation

Mineral oil for constipation is available on the pharmacy shelf, but how safe is it? Mineral oil may possibly  cause respiratory complications. The risks of taking mineral oil for constipation depends on the age of the user. The State of South Dakota explicitily warns parents against giving mineral oil to infants who have constipation. Elderly patients who take mineral oil may be also exposed to certain health risks. People in high risk groups should not rely on mineral oil without a doctor's direction.

Age Groups that Should Avoid Taking Mineral Oil for Constipation
Some experts believe giving mineral oil to infants is dangerous. This danger extends into childhood and depends on a minor's age. The risk of mineral oil to children is lower than the risk of mineral oil to infants, but still higher than the risks of mineral oil to adults. Senior citizens face a higher risk of respiratory side effects from mineral oil, because they are more likely to have difficulty swallowing. The difficulty swallowing may be the result of problems with the esophagus that accumulate over the years. When senior citizens try to swallow mineral oil, some of it could end up in the lungs where it can cause complications.

Possible Complications of Taking Mineral Oil for Constipation
Mineral oil misuse can lead to certain complications. An overdose of  oil may result in abdominal pain, diarrhea, dehydration, nausea, and vomiting. The vomit can be inhaled into the lungs and may become problematic. In rare cases, patients consuming normal amounts of mineral oil may inhale some of it inadvertently. This inhaled mineral oil can impair lung activity. Coughing, rapid breathing, and other symptoms have been noted in children who take mineral oil. There are also cases of older patients suffering lung problems from inhaled mineral oil.


Possible Complications from Taking Mineral Oil for Constipation

Mineral Oil Overuse

Abdominal Pain, Diarrhea, Dehydration, Nausea, Vomiting, Inhaled Vomit

Mineral Oil Inhalation

Coughing, Abnormally Rapid Breathing, Internal Lung Damage


It is common to use mineral oil for constipation, but certain populations are at risk from this laxative.  An overdose of mineral oil can cause digestive problems. Inhaling mineral oil may lead to certain respiratory problems. The respiratory risks associated with mineral oil depend on a person's age. Some experts believe babies should never be given mineral oil for constipation. Children and the elderly should consult a doctor before taking mineral oil for constipation. Keep an eye out for potential lung problem while on a regiment of mineral oil for constipation.

References:

1. Infant Constipation: A Guide for Parents. State of South Dakota
https://apps.sd.gov/Applications/PH18Publications/secure/Publications/constipation.pdf

2. Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis Balch and James Balch

3. Mineral Oil Overdose. English Medical Encyclopedia
University of Maryland Medical Center
http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/002684all.htm

4. Laxative Overdose. Health Encyclopedia
Drexel University College of Medicine
http://www.drexelmed.edu/Home/HealthEncyclopedia/Poisons/Laxativeoverdose.aspx

5. Constipation. National Cancer Institute
US National Institutes of Health

6. Evolution of Exogenous Lipoid Pneumonia in Children: Clinical Aspects, Radiological Aspects, and the Role of Bronchoalveolar Lavage. Journal Brasileiro de Pneumologia
PubMed

8. First Do No Harm: The Dangers of Mineral Oil. Pediatric Child Health
PubMed
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20084222

9. Difficulty Swallowing - Causes. MayoClinic
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/difficulty-swallowing/DS00523/DSECTION=causes

10. Pediatric Vital Signs. New York State Department of Health
http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/ems/pdf/assmttools.pdf

11. Not Your Typical Pneumonia: A Case of Exogenous Lipoid Pneumonia. Journal of General Internal Medicine
PubMed
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17846847