Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.
Determine the following information:
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, heart function, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The patient may receive:
How well a patient does depends on the type of laxative swallowed, how much was swallowed, and how much time passed before treatment was received.
Serious symptoms are most likely in patients who abuse laxatives by taking large amounts to lose weight. Fluid and electrolyte (body chemical) imbalances may result, and fecal incontinence (inability to control bowel movements) may also develop. First time laxative overdoses are rarely serious.
Malagelada JR, Malagelada C. Nausea and vomiting. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006:chap 8.
Sackeyfio AH, Gottlieb SJ. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 291.
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