Colon retains water sourced from foods while the food-residue passes through the digestive tract. Water thus absorbed is used in the making of waste; this is called as stools. When stools turn dry or become hard, bowel movements may reduce. You may tend to pass stools less than three or four times in 7 days. This condition is referred as constipation which is a common problem associated with the digestive tract. In the US, as per an approximate estimate – nearly 2.60 million adults suffer from constipation. This can be managed and controlled with the intake of more water as well as foods rich in fiber. In some instances, your doctor may prescribe a laxative to ease the discharge of stool. One such medication is polyethylene glycol 3350. People who take it need to know its likely side effects prior to starting a medication plan.
Of the several causes associated with constipation, the leading ones are (1) not drinking ample quantities of water, (2) intake of foods that have low fiber content (for example, foods such as dairy products or meats) or (3) changes made to your routine due to say, travel. Intake of a few medications – such as proton pump inhibitors or antacids with high level of calcium may also harden your stool. You need to know that an overuse of drugs that can soften stools (or, laxatives) is also likely to trigger dryness of stool. Other causes include hormone-related changes – especially, a hypothyroid condition or problems in the digestive tract such as intestinal blockages or bowel related disorders.
Use of polyethylene glycol 3350
As mentioned, this drug is widely prescribed for the treatment of difficulties to pass stool. Its main action rests on promoting more absorption of water; this action softens your stool and promotes regular bowel-related movements. Polyethylene glycol 3350 is categorized under a family of drugs known as osmotic laxatives. As more than 2 million people have problems with passing of stools, such laxatives are most commonly purchased – either with or without prescriptions. As you can buy it without your doctor’s prescription, you need to carefully read all the instructions printed on the label.
Safe dosage of polyethylene glycol 3350 is through oral intake. Some brands pack this drug in easily usable packets; in such cases, the pre-measured packet needs to be used as per the instructions of your physician. Apart from a powder form, polyethylene glycol 3350 is also available as a liquid variant. Intake of the liquid form requires using the cap (which serves as a measuring device). The best way to take the drug is to blend it with a fluid – such as water, coffee, soda, tea or a fruit juice; stir it well and then drink it. If you do not see immediate results, do not be disheartened. Your doctor may advise you that it may have to be taken for at least 2 or 3 days for the results to show up.
Side effects of polyethylene glycol 3350
This drug is likely to cause a few adverse discomforts or side effects. The most common side effects are cramping of abdominal muscles, bloating, gas formation, flatulence as well as nausea. In some people, polyethylene glycol 3350 may trigger more frequent movements of bowel and as a result, you may have to use the toilet often. Other related side effects are persistent spell of indigestion – showing up as diarrhea, pain in the lower abdomen, bleeding from the rectum as well as presence of blood traces in the stool.
Risks of excessive use of polyethylene glycol 3350
You must never use the drug for more than 15 days; if you use it for a longer term, it may make you dependent on this drug or can lead to a chronic state of constipation. Side effects caused by an excessive dose of this drug include severe loss of fluids (leading to a dehydrated state), acute imbalance of minerals (such as very low presence of sodium), indigestion or diarrhea. Those who are taking polyethylene glycol 3350 through self-medication will need to be more careful; if constipation persists even after taking the drug for 6 days, talk to a qualified medical practitioner on an emergency basis.
Serious side effects of polyethylene glycol 3350
This drug may rarely trigger some very acute or extremely serious side effects. People who have known allergies to laxatives, especially the osmotic type of stool softeners – may witness side effects such as rashes on skin, inflammation of oral organs, excessive itchiness, respiratory problems as well as an acute spell of drowsiness. If you experience any of these side effects or dizziness, you are advised to call 911 immediately or contact a local poison control center on an emergency mode. Those living in any of the Canadian provinces are advised to call Health Canada quickly, or reach out to a poison control unit located in your province.
You need to remember that the list of adverse reactions and discomforts mentioned above do not constitute a complete list of side effects of polyethylene glycol 3350. It is hence possible to witness newer side effects; in such instances, it is strongly recommended to contact the helpline numbers of the food and drug administration (FDA) in the US.
Prior medical conditions and risks associated with intake of polyethylene glycol 3350
It is a good practice to share details about your medical history with your treating doctor. You may also need to share particulars about your family’s clinical history and prior ailments, if any. If the clinical history includes conditions such as pain in abdomen, vomiting, nausea or other disorders in the intestine (such as blockages, irritation of bowel, etc.), your doctor needs to know about such conditions.
As polyethylene glycol 3350 may trigger indigestion or diarrhea, older patients need to be cautious while taking this drug. Those living with eating problems – especially, conditions such as anorexia – must stay away from taking this drug. Above all, ensure that you do not have internal conditions such as ulcers, renal disorders or abrupt changes in bowel movements (for more than 15 days) before starting the medication plan. If any of these conditions are known to exist, you need to inform your treating doctor about it. Accordingly, your medical team may alter the strength of polyethylene glycol 3350 or may suggest safer alternatives that may work well with your system.
Women who are pregnant need to inform the physician about their health condition. This drug falls under a group of drugs called as category-C medications; this means, it is not clearly known if this drug can harm your fetus. Hence, this drug is prescribed to pregnant women only if it is absolutely essential to take it. Also, it is a good practice to talk to your physician about likely side effects and its possible impact on the health of fetus. No scientific evidences are available on the side effects of this drug on breastfeeding mothers and their babies. So, women who are breastfeeding must talk to their treating doctor before starting to take polyethylene glycol 3350.
What if you have taken an overdose of polyethylene glycol 3350?
When people forget to take a dose, some people may take a double dose of polyethylene glycol 3350. This is likely to cause more harm than good. So, when you have missed or forgotten to take a dose, it is advised to skip the dose you forgot to take. Wait for the next dose, and take your regular dosage. In case of a likely overdose or a double-dose of polyethylene glycol 3350, you may experience some adverse signs such as breathing problems (wheezing, gasping for breath or panting), inflammation of oral parts, loss of consciousness, a persistent spell of diarrhea or nausea, a marked change in the quantum of urine discharged, acute levels of drowsiness, or passing out. In such instances, you are advised to call 911 quickly, and take needful medical attention. You can also immediately reach out to the local poison control center.
Safe dosage levels for the intake of polyethylene glycol 3350
Most people who took this drug as per their doctor’s advice very rarely reported or experienced any major side effects or discomforts. You need to remember that your doctor has prescribed this drug only because its benefits are found to far outweigh the risks associated with its intake. Dosages of polyethylene glycol 3350 are usually administered for not more than a week. For adults, a dose of 16 grams (gms) taken along with 6 to 9 ounces of water or juice is recommended. This dose is recommended only once each day. Such a dosage form is likely to trigger bowel-movements in less than 50 hours. This is a proven dosage form for people who live with occasional episodes of constipation or irregular bowel movements.
Likely interactions with other medications
Polyethylene glycol 3350 is known to interact with a few other drugs, especially if co-administered. Your medical team needs to know about the other medications you are currently taking. It is a good practice to make a list of all medication plans or treatment plans you are currently pursuing. While this list is being made, ensure to add prescription drugs, over the counter (OTC) medications as well as herbal aids or dietary supplements. Once you have submitted this list to your physician, never alter or stop taking the medicines present in your list. Also, it is equally important not to strengthen or weaken the dosages of these drugs; such practices are likely to worsen the side effects or interactions. So, any changes in the drug list – be it, strength or frequency of intake – need to be shared immediately with your treating doctor. Your doctor will make needful changes to the dosage of polyethylene glycol 3350 in accordance to changes, if any.
Above all, in order to avoid likely incidence of constipation, you are advised to add foods rich in fiber to your daily diet. Such fiber-intensive foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, etc. You are also advised to drink needful amounts of water, juices or other fluids.
In sum, in case of occasional episodes of constipation, your doctor may prescribe polyethylene glycol 3350. This drug is largely considered as a safe drug; however, it may cause a few side effects such as flatulence, nausea, cramping of muscles of the abdomen, gas formation, abnormal bowel movements, diarrhea, etc. In rare instances, polyethylene glycol 3350 may trigger a few serious side effects like discharge of blood from the rectum, blood traces in stool, etc. Upon noticing these fairly serious reactions, you are advised to take medical help quickly or call 911 for needful medical attention on an emergency basis.