Health & Family

Is the laxative MiraLAX safe for children?

Q: My 2-year-old grandson has problems with constipation, and his pediatrician has recommended MiraLAX to be taken daily. He has now been taking it for about two months.

I am concerned that his pediatrician took no time to make dietary suggestions for a child his age. I can’t say anything or I’d put my daughter-in-law on the defensive, but I think the junk foods he consumes keep him from eating foods that could combat constipation.

I don’t want to be an interfering mother-in-law. That’s why I have kept quiet about this up till now, but can no longer look the other way. He struggles to keep from having bowel movements, then cries from pain while having them. Is it safe for him to continue taking this laxative indefinitely?

A: A controversy has erupted over MiraLAX (polyethylene glycol 3350 or PEG 3350) in recent weeks. That’s because the Food and Drug Administration has commissioned a study to determine whether some children absorb this laxative into their bodies. Normally, it is supposed to stay in the digestive tract and attract water to soften stool and make it easier to pass. But to date, there are no studies to confirm that young children do not absorb it.

It sounds as though your grandson is holding his stool because it is hard and painful to pass. MiraLAX can indeed help with this problem by reducing the pain, but this laxative has not been approved for long-term use, especially in children.

The medical term for stool holding is “encopresis.” Pediatrician Alan Greene suggests a short course of oral mineral oil.

Flomax side effect

Q: Is a stuffy nose a side effect of Flomax? I can’t think of any other reason my nose is so stuffed up.

A: In the studies done before this drug was approved to relieve symptoms of an enlarged prostate, quite a few men experienced this problem. Between 13 and 19 percent of them reported “rhinitis,” also known as nasal congestion, stuffy nose, runny nose, sinus congestion or hay fever. Many others (around 10 percent) reported coming down with cold or flu symptoms – some of which might have been a stuffy nose.

Let your doctor know you are experiencing this common complication of tamsulosin (Flomax). There are other options for treating prostate symptoms.

Magnesium benefit

Q: I’ve always had high cholesterol, and I’ve been taking pravastatin for a couple of years. I couldn’t get my cholesterol down until I added 250 mg of magnesium daily. My last test results showed total cholesterol of 183, HDL 54, LDL 99 and triglycerides at 151. Is this success due to the magnesium?

A: There are data to suggest that magnesium may be associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol (Hypertension Research online, Oct. 30, 2014).

Reach Joe and Terry Graedon at