Milk of magnesia is an oral suspension that contains hydrated magnesium carbonate. It is an over-the-counter medication intended for occasional or short-term use as an antacid or laxative. Patients may use it to relieve minor constipation, and it can also help with relief from heartburn, indigestion, or sour stomach. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should ask their physician before using milk of magnesia, and patients with kidney disease should check with their healthcare team to ensure this medication is safe for them to use. If symptoms persist for more than seven days, the patient should see a doctor before continuing to take this medication. Milk of magnesia is available as a chewable tablet and as a liquid. Individuals using the liquid formulation will need to shake the medicine before consuming it.
The potential side effects associated with milk of magnesia are discussed below.
Diarrhea is the most frequently reported side effect that patients experience after taking milk of magnesia. As a laxative, this medication increases the amount of water in the intestines to induce a bowel movement, and it softens and moistens the stool. Most patients will have a normal bowel movement within six hours of taking a single dose of milk of magnesia. However, diarrhea could occur if an individual takes more than one dose in twenty-four hours or if the dose consumed exceeds the recommended amount on the product packaging. Diarrhea is defined as loose or watery stools, and patients might experience this symptom together with abdominal pain or bloating. If diarrhea occurs, patients should not take any additional doses of milk of magnesia, and a doctor should be consulted if the diarrhea is accompanied by nausea. It is often beneficial to eat a low-fiber diet and avoid dairy products until diarrhea resolves, and patients are advised to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. If diarrhea continues for more than two days, patients may wish to consult a healthcare provider, and additional medication may be prescribed.
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