What is Bisacodyl?
Bisacodyl is an organic compound used as a stimulant laxative medication and stool-softener.
What is Bisacodyl used for?
The treatment is used to relieve both occasional and chronic constipation, a condition in which bowel movements are made difficult by hard or dry stools. Bisacodyl is also used to manage neurogenic bowel dysfunction, a condition where nerve damage makes a person unable to control bowel movements. In addition, doctors and nurses often use Bisacodyl to clear the bowels when preparing for certain medical examinations, such as a colonoscopy.
How does Bisacodyl work?
Bisacodyl works by stimulating the enteric nerves, which are found in the gastrointestinal tract. By doing so, Bisacodyl causes peristalsis, or contractions in the colon. This helps move stools through the colon in order to stimulate a bowel movement.
In addition to its stimulant properties, Bisacodyl is also a contact laxative. It increases the amount of fluid and salt that passes through stools, which then softens them. Like other stimulant laxatives, Bisacodyl’s mechanism of action is largely centred around the colon. The effect on the small intestine is minimal.
How long does Bisacodyl take to work?
When taken orally, Bisacodyl usually begins to take effect quite quickly. People who use Bisacodyl will usually be able to pass a bowel movement 6 to 12 hours after taking it. It’s often recommended that Bisacodyl be taken before bed, to allow a bowel motion to be passed upon waking.
It’s important to remember that many people who take Bisacodyl don’t feel any effect at all for hours after their first dose. In fact, a lot of people report not feeling anything for some time after taking it, before feeling a sudden urge to pass a bowel movement around eight hours in.
How should I take Bisacodyl?
One to two tablets of Bisacodyl 5mg should be taken once a day with water just before you go to bed. You can take the medication with or without food, but you should not have milk, indigestion remedies or acid reflux medications at the same time because they will stop it working properly. Leave a one-hour gap between taking Bisacodyl and any of these things.
Who can’t take Bisacodyl?
Bisacodyl is usually tolerated well by adults who take it, and is also suitable for children aged four years or older when recommended by their GP. However, the medication is not suitable for some people. You must tell your GP or pharmacist before taking Bisacodyl if you have:
- Had an allergic reaction to Bisacodyl or any other medicines in the past
- Signs of dehydration
- Nausea, vomiting or severe stomach pain
- A serious stomach problem, such as an intestinal obstruction, appendicitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or a muscle deficiency that prevents your bowel moving food and liquid along
- A sugar intolerance (the tablets contain some lactose and sucrose)
What are the side effects of Bisacodyl?
It’s common for Bisacodyl to cause mild side effects in some people who take it. These include:
- Stomach pain or cramps
In rare cases, Bisacodyl may cause more serious side effects. Call your GP straight away if you experience any of the following while taking Bisacodyl:
- Blood in your stools
How should I store Bisacodyl
Bisacodyl should be stored in a dry, cool environment that does not exceed 25°C.
Always read the patient information leaflet before commencing treatment.