What is Bisacodyl?
Bisacodyl is an organic compound used as a stimulant laxative medication to relieve constipation, a condition in which bowel movements are made difficult by hard or dry stools.
What is Bisacodyl used for?
The treatment is used for short term relief of occasional constipation, when other measures have failed. If experiencing constipation, the first recommendation is to try diet and lifestyle measures, such as increasing fluid and fibre intake and increasing physical activitity such as a daily walk or run. If this fails, a bulk-forming laxative such as Fybogel or an osmotic laxative such as Movicol or Laxido is recommended as first line treatment. Following this, if your bowel motions are soft but still difficult to pass, a stimulant laxative such as Bisacodyl may be used for short- term relief.
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 8 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. 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
Does Bisacodyl help with weight loss?
Stimulant laxatives such as Bisacodyl do not aid weight loss and should not be used for this purpose. For further information about how to manage your weight safely, you should consult your GP.
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.
Important: We advise you to always read the patient information leaflet inside the medication box, as the generic medication may not always entirely match the patient information leaflet listed. Please contact us if you have any questions.
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Content last updated: 25 Oct 2023