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Generic Name:

bisacodyl (bis-AK-oh-dil)

Trade Names:

Correctol, Nourilax, Alophen, Carter’s Little Pills and Dulcolax


Bisacodyl is available in forms of tablets, suppositories or pediatric suppositories. In the US, it is also sold as a prepackaged enema containing liquid bisacodyl.

What is bisacodyl?

Bisacodyl belongs to the class of medication that is called as stimulant laxatives. The drug is a derivative of diphenylmethane.

Uses of bisacodyl

  • It is an organic compound that is usually prescribed to provide short-term relief from constipation and in the management of neurogenic bowel dysfunction.
  • It is used for bowel preparation before a medical examination like an X-ray or colonoscopy
  • It is given to patients to clean the bowels before or after surgery or in cases

It should not be used if one is suffering from abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting. Never use the drug for more than a week, unless directed by the physician.

How to Use the bisacodyl medicine?

Bisacodyly is available in tablet form and can be taken orally. It is usually taken late in the evening, so that there can be a bowel movement in the morning. If taken too early in the evening, it may result in a bowel movement during the night. A bowel movement usually occurs about 6 to 12 hours after taking bisacodyl. Never take more than one tablet a day or for more than a week. Do not eat or drink dairy products or antacids within 1 hour after taking bisacodyl.

Always follow the directions on the prescription label of the tablet. If you have any doubts, clear them by asking your doctor or pharmacist.

You can swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water. Never split, chew, or crush the tablets. These tablets are available in the form of 5 mg tablets, 5 mg pediatric suppositories and 10 mg suppositories for adults.

When administered rectally in the form of a suppository, it hardly takes 15 to 60 mins to show results. If a very strong, enema-like result is desired, two suppositories are inserted together. The commercially prepared enema gives results in just 5 to 20 minutes.

Mechanism of Action of bisacodyl

The drug stimulates the enteric nerves of the colon that causes colonic movements. As it is a stimulant laxative, it’s effect on the small intestine is negligible. Bisacodyl also increases the fluid and NaCl secretions.

Side Effects/ Complications of bisacodyl

Side effects of bisacodyl include:

In case you suffer from any of the following symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately:

  • Severe pain in the stomach
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Perforated bowel
  • Fructose or galactose intolerance
  • Allergy to yellow food dye
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Decrease in urination
  • Changes in mood or mental confusion

Precautions for bisacodyl

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Children: Bisacodyl should not be used in children younger than 6 years old.

Old people: As old people are sensitive to side effects of bosacody, it should be used with caution.

Pregnant women: Bisacodyl belongs to FDA pregnancy category B. Bisacodyl is not expected to be harmful for unborn baby.

Lactating women: There is no evidence that bisacodyl is found in breast milk. If you are breast feeding consult your doctor before using this medication.

Other: Do not drink milk with in one hour after taking bisacodyl.

Any Special Dietary Instructions for bisacodyl

Follow a regular diet and exercise program. Make sure you eat a fiber rich diet and drink at least 8 glasses of water daily or as recommended by your doctor.

What to do If I Miss A Dose

Bisacodylis taken as prescribed by the doctor. In case you forget a dose, take it immediately the minute you remember it. If it is almost time for the following dose, skip the dose you forgot. Never take a double dose in order to cover up for the missed one.

Who should not take bisacodyl

People who suffer from the following conditions should get their dose adjusted or undergo specific tests, before safely using bisacodyl:

  • Have a history of bowel obstruction, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis or any other intestinal disorder
  • Problems swallowing
  • Kidney disease
  • Are on diuretics

Never ever use bisacodyl without informing to your doctor that you are pregnant, breast feeding or giving it to a child.

Interactions of bisacodyl

Bisacodyl may react to milk and antacids, causing damage to its tablet coating. This may irritate the stomach leading to unwanted side effects. Thus, avoid taking any other medications or drinking milk within 1 to 2 hours after using bisacodyl.

There are many other drugs that may interact with bisacodyl, thus, make sure you inform your doctor about all the medications as well as vitamin and mineral supplements you take. Also, never start a new drug without telling your doctor, if you are using bisacodyl.

Storage of bisacodyl

Store bisacodyl tablets at the temperature of 20 C to 25 C (68F to 77 F) and suppositories below 30 C. Do not store tablet or suppositories in bath room.

Other important information

Read the instructions carefully that come along with the medication. Make sure you check all the doses carefully and speak to your doctor if you need to know more. It is best to take the medication late in the evening or at night and get relief from constipation the following morning.

Make sure you keep the medication out of reach of children.

Written by: team
Date last updated: May 05, 2015