Magnesium citrate is a laxative that is often prescribed for clearing the bowels before a major surgery or diagnostic procedure, like colonoscopy and barium X-ray. Such bowel preparation has to be done properly, if you want optimal results.
Magnesium citrate is one of the different forms of magnesium which is easily absorbable by the body. It is available in the form of tablets, powder, and as saline laxative. It is very effective as a laxative, when consumed with water or juices, on an empty stomach. Once it enters the colon, magnesium citrate draws water from the tissues, to the colon. The excess water in the colon stimulates bowel movements. Thus, magnesium citrate is used for treating constipation, and is a widely-used laxative. It is also used for bowel preparation, before certain diagnostic procedures, like colonoscopy, and major surgeries involving the bowels.
Magnesium Citrate Bowel Preparation
The main objective of magnesium citrate bowel prep is to empty the bowels, before the upcoming surgery or diagnostic procedure. Proper cleansing is very important, as the bowel has to be examined carefully and traces of stool may interfere with the results. Before bowel preparation, you must inform your doctor about the current medication as well as medical conditions. While some medications have to be stopped at least a week before the procedure, certain others have to be continued. Those with kidney failure, liver problems and congestive heart failure must avoid such bowel preparation. So, the actual preparation may start seven days before the day of bowel surgery or colonoscopy.
Seven Days Prior to the Surgery/Diagnostic Procedure: Stop taking certain medications, like aspirin and NSAIDs. Supplements with iron content must be avoided. However, don’t discontinue any medication, without the consent of your doctor. It will be better to reduce intake of high-fiber foods as well as supplements.
The Day Before the Surgery/Diagnostic Procedure: You must avoid intake of solid foods, alcoholic beverages, and dairy products. Refrain from smoking cigarettes. Avoid drinks that are red, purple or blue in color. You may take those medications that are allowed by your doctor. You can consume the following items as a part of your clear liquid diet before colonoscopy.
- Plain jello without any toppings
- Clear broth or bouillon
- Fruit juices without pulp (apple, white grapes, etc.)
- Ice popsicle, Clear soda
- Tea without milk/cream
- Water and fruit-flavored drinks
- Ginger ale and sports drinks like Gatorade
How to Use Magnesium Citrate for Bowel Prep: The dosage and method of using magnesium citrate may vary slightly from one person to another. In some cases, other laxatives are also prescribed, along with magnesium citrate. It can be taken as a single dose or as divided dose. In case of a divided dose, the prescribed dose is consumed in two parts, within a duration of 4 to 6 hours, or as prescribed by the doctor. Usually, magnesium citrate is consumed in the evening, on the day prior to the procedure. You may consume it as such, or have it with clear liquids. Drink lots of water and other clear liquids, after consuming magnesium citrate. As it draws water from the tissues to the colon, intake of water is necessary, to avoid dehydration. The time of consumption of magnesium citrate may vary with the scheduled time for the surgery or diagnostic procedure.
Magnesium citrate may cause multiple bowel movements, which may start as early as 30 minutes from the time of consumption. However, the response to this laxative may vary from one person to another, as it may take around two to three hours to work, in some people. So stay near the bathroom, once you take this laxative. Keep soft wipes and soft towels for cleaning. Apply a small amount of hemorrhoid cream, in case you develop a burning sensation after repeated bowel movements. Make sure to wipe out the cream completely and clean the area, before you appear for the procedure.
4 Hours Prior to the Surgery/Diagnostic Procedure: You should not drink anything for three to four hours prior to the time fixed for the procedure. If the procedure is scheduled to take place at 10:00 am, you should not have anything from 6:00 am. By this time, your bowel movements must be clear and watery. A small amount of mucus as well as sediments may be seen. In case of solid or semi-solid bowel movements, contact your doctor.
This is only a brief overview about magnesium citrate bowel prep instructions. The method of preparation and the dosage of laxatives may not be the same for all. So you must follow the instructions of your doctor. Diabetics must take special care as far as their medications and choice of liquid foods are concerned. If you are pregnant, or have any health-related problem, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking magnesium citrate as it can cause side effects. Lots of water and other clear liquids have to be consumed, to prevent dehydration that can be caused by use of magnesium laxative. If you come across any side effects such as dehydration, dizziness, shortness of breath, facial redness, excessive sweating, chest pain or heart palpitations, muscle weakness, drowsiness, nausea or vomiting, make sure you contact your physician as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.