Milk of Magnesia Uses

Dhristi JEE 2022-24

Uses of Magnesium Hydroxide

Milk of magnesia is a white inorganic compound with chemical formula Mg(OH)₂. Magnesium hydroxide has a very low solubility with K{sp} = 5.61 x 10⁻¹². Milk of magnesia comes across as a mineral brucite when we talk about the natural occurrence. Magnesium hydroxide is named Milk of Magnesia because it has a milky appearance. In general, magnesium salts react with alkaline water to form magnesium oxide as a precipitate. For commercial preparation, seawater is treated with lime.


What is Milk of Magnesia Used for?

Milk of magnesia or Magnesium hydroxide has a varied range of uses in our daily life and practical applications. 

  • Clinical Uses - As an Antacid and Laxative 

Magnesium hydroxide facilitates bowel evacuation which is caused by distension produced by fluid accumulation because magnesium hydroxide draws water into the intestine (osmotic effect). The fact that magnesium hydroxide can cause bowel evacuation is used in surgery procedures, that is, before the surgery. Magnesium hydroxide is used as an oral antacid which helps to neutralize the excess acid in the stomach. As an antacid, magnesium hydroxide is dosed around 1g for adults where it being a base, neutralizes the acid present in the stomach. 


Magnesium hydroxide, when dosed around 2-5g, is used as a laxative. As discussed earlier, this medical property is used during constipation and pre-surgery requirements. This can also be termed as emulsion uses. Liquid paraffin and milk of magnesia oral emulsion is commonly called Cremag and is used as stool softener. Deys milk of magnesia is also popular as they are used to treat constipation.


What is Phillips Milk of Magnesia Used for?

Phillips milk of magnesia is used as a laxative which draws water into the intestine and further helps in the movement inside the intestine. It is used to treat casual short time constipation. It also acts as an antacid which is used to treat heartburns, upset stomach or indigestion. It can be consumed as a liquid or chewable form. Continuous usage of the Phillips Milk of Magnesia can cause adverse effects. Overuse makes the consumer excessively dependent on laxatives and further holds up the problem of constipation. Some other side effects include persistent diarrhea, dehydration and mineral imbalances (high quantity of magnesium in the body).


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When to Take Milk of Magnesia

It is generally advised to take milk of magnesia during bedtime. People of all ages can consume a dose of milk of magnesia with water before going to bed at night. A doctor must be consulted before giving it to a child below 6 years old.


Food Additive

Milk of magnesia is used in foods directly as it is generally considered safe. For commercial purposes, it is mostly sold as a medication in the form of tablets, capsules, liquid suspensions and powder. As antacids, they neutralize the stomach acid during digestion and acidity. As a laxative, it promotes easy evacuation of stools by softening it. Some magnesium hydroxides are further formulated including aluminum hydroxide to diminish the laxative effects. This inhibits the contraction of smooth muscle cells in the gastrointestinal tract and counterbalances the excessive contractions due to the osmotic effect.


How to Use Milk of Magnesia

Milk of magnesia is available in tablet and liquid form. Whatever kind of medication you pick, carefully read the label to discover the right quantity for children, as it differs from the proper amount for adults. If anything on the label confuses you, it's always a good idea to contact a medical practitioner who can guide you through it. People can take various types of milk of magnesia to treat heartburn and acid indigestion in addition to constipation relief. It is advised to take the pill or drink with a full 8-ounce glass of water. It is often recommended to take milk of magnesia before going to bed. If you're taking any other medicines, try to take them 2 hours before or after taking milk of magnesia. When used as an antacid, milk of magnesia may have a laxative effect. Milk of magnesia should not be used as an antacid for more than 14 consecutive days.


Side Effects

Diarrhea is the most common adverse effect of using milk of magnesia or any laxative. Stop taking milk of magnesia if you have diarrhea or nausea. If you experience a more significant side effect, such as rectal bleeding, consult your doctor immediately away. It's important to remember that long-term or excessive usage of this drug for constipation can lead to a dependency on laxatives and continuing bowel problems. If you develop any of these symptoms, stop taking Milk of Magnesia and contact your doctor right once:

  • Severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea;

  • No bowel movement after using the medicine as a laxative;

  • Rectal bleeding; or

  • Worsening symptoms.

Common side effects may include:

  • Diarrhea; or

  • A decreased sense of taste.

FAQs on Milk of Magnesia Uses

1. What is Milk of Magnesia?

Milk of magnesia, commonly known as magnesium hydroxide, can be used as an antacid or a laxative. Constipation is commonly treated with milk of magnesia, which is available over-the-counter. It is frequently beneficial for short-term constipation treatment, however, it is not suitable for chronic constipation treatment. This kind of laxative works by attracting moisture into a person's intestines, which helps in stool loosening. A person can buy milk of magnesia over the counter without a prescription, but if they have repeated spells of constipation, they should consult their doctor. Parents should avoid feeding magnesia milk to children under the age of six unless their doctor approves it. The magnesium hydroxide in the milk of magnesia is a water-absorbing mineral. It softens the stool and stimulates the intestines by drawing water into them. This makes bowel movements more convenient.

2. What causes Constipation?

Constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movements or difficult stool passing that lasts for several weeks or longer. Constipation is defined as a lack of more than three bowel motions per week. A low fiber diet is a typical cause of moderate or temporary constipation. Fiber may be added to your diet by eating foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The same thing might happen if you don't drink enough water. Staying hydrated is essential for a variety of reasons, including gut health. Constipation can also be caused by more significant health conditions. Constipation can be caused by a variety of illnesses, including irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disease and diabetes. Other causes that may contribute to constipation include:

  • Ignoring the urge to have bowel movements

  • Certain medications like narcotics, iron pills, or blood pressure-lowering drugs

  • Traveling

  • Pregnancy

  • Some pelvic floor disorders

  • A change in medication

  • A change in diet

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