Mineral oil is a lubricant laxative that is taken by mouth. It encourages bowel movements by coating the bowel and the stool with a waterproof film that helps to retain moisture in the stool.
Laxatives are to be used to provide short-term relief only, unless otherwise directed by the nurse or physician who is helping you to manage your bowel symptoms. A regimen that includes a healthy diet containing roughage (whole grain breads and cereals, bran, fruit, and green, leafy vegetables), six to eight full glasses of liquids each day, and some form of daily exercise is most important in stimulating healthy bowel function.
If your physician has recommended this type of laxative for management of constipation, follow his or her recommendations for its use. If you are treating yourself for constipation, follow the directions on the package insert. Mineral oil is usually taken at bedtime because it takes six to eight hours to produce results. Be sure to consult your physician if you experience problems or do not get relief within a week.
Mineral oil should not be taken within two hours of mealtime because the mineral oil may interfere with food digestion and the absorption of important nutrients.
Mineral oil should not be taken within two hours of taking a stool softener (see Docusate) because the stool softener may increase the amount of mineral oil that is absorbed by the body.
Do not take any type of laxative if you have signs of appendicitis or inflamed bowel (e.g., stomach or lower abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, soreness, nausea, or vomiting). Check with your physician as soon as possible.
Do not take any laxative for more than one week unless you have been told to do so by your physician. Many people tend to overuse laxative products, which often leads to dependence on the laxative action to produce a bowel movement. Discuss the use of laxatives with your health care professional in order to ensure that the laxative is used effectively as part of a comprehensive, healthy bowel management regimen.
Mineral oil should not be used very often or for long periods of time. Its gradual build-up in body tissues can cause problems, and may interfere with the body's absorption of important nutrients and vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Do not take any laxative within two hours of taking another medication because the desired effectiveness of the other medication may be reduced.
Mineral oil should not be used during pregnancy because it may interfere with absorption of nutrients in the mother and, if used for prolonged periods, cause severe bleeding in the newborn infant.
Be sure to let your physician know if you are using a laxative and breast-feeding at the same time.
Possible Side Effects
Uncommon side effect that usually does not need medical attention: skin irritation around the rectal area.