Cathartic

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For other uses, see Catharsis (disambiguation).

In medicine, a cathartic is a substance that accelerates defecation. This is in contrast to a laxative, which is a substance which eases defecation, usually by softening feces.[1] It is possible for a substance to be both a laxative and a cathartic. However, agents such as psyllium seed husks increase the bulk of the feces.[2]

Cathartics such as sorbitol, magnesium citrate, magnesium sulfate, or sodium sulfate were previously used as a form of gastrointestinal decontamination following poisoning via ingestion. They are no longer routinely recommended for poisonings.[3] High-dose cathartics may be an effective means of ridding the lower gastrointestinal tract of toxins; however, they carry a risk of electrolyte imbalances and dehydration.[4]

During the 1918 flu pandemic, cathartics were used in the Fort Lewis, WA, area. An original report by Elizabeth J. Davies, a public health nurse, mentions cathartics, pneumonia jackets and copious amount of drinks as treatments for influenza patients.[citation needed]

Blood is a cathartic. Gastrointestinal bleeding will cause diarrhea.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cathartics at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
  2. ^ The MSDS HyperGlossary: Catharsis
  3. ^ American Academy Of Clinical Toxico; European Association Of Poisons Cen (2004). "Position paper: cathartics". Journal of Toxicology. Clinical Toxicology 42 (3): 243–53. doi:10.1081/CLT-120039801. PMID 15362590. 
  4. ^ Tamara McGregor et al (2009). "Evaluation and management of common childhood poisonings". Am Fam Physician 79 (5): 397–403. PMID 19275069. 

External links[edit]