What is Dulcolax (bisacodyl)?
Bisacodyl is a laxative that stimulates bowel movements.
Bisacodyl is used to treat constipation or to empty the bowels before surgery, colonoscopy, x-rays, or other intestinal medical procedure.
Bisacodyl may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about Dulcolax (bisacodyl)?
Do not use bisacodyl if you have stomach (abdominal) pain, nausea, or vomiting, unless directed by a doctor.
If you notice a sudden change in bowel habits that persists over a period of 2 weeks, consult your healthcare provider before using a laxative.
Bisacodyl products should not be used for longer than one week, unless otherwise directed by your healthcare provider.
Rectal bleeding or failure to have a bowel movement after use of a laxative may indicate a more serious condition. Stop using bisacodyl and contact your healthcare provider.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using Dulcolax (bisacodyl)?
You should not use this medication if you are allergic to bisacodyl, or if you have:
severe stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting; a perforated bowel; a blockage in your intestines; fructose or galactose intolerance; an allergy to yellow food dye; severe constipation or dehydration; inflammatory bowel disease, toxic megacolon; or a sudden change in bowel habits lasting 2 weeks or longer.
People with eating disorders (such as anorexia or bulimia) should not use this medication without the advice of a doctor.
If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use bisacodyl:
kidney disease; trouble swallowing; a history of bowel obstruction, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, or other intestinal disorder; or if you are taking a diuretic ("water pill").
Do not use bisacodyl without telling your doctor if you are pregnant.
Do not use bisacodyl without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give this medication to a child without the advice of a doctor.
When used to treat constipation, bisacodyl is only part of a complete program of treatment that may also include diet and exercise. Follow your doctor’s instructions very closely.
How should I use Dulcolax (bisacodyl)?
Use this medication exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use it in larger amounts or for longer than recommended.
For best results, take bisacodyl on an empty stomach, or at bedtime.
Do not crush, chew, or break the enteric-coated tablet. Swallow it whole. The enteric-coated pill has a special coating to protect your stomach. Breaking the pill could damage this coating.
Do not take a bisacodyl rectal (enema or suppository) by mouth. It is for use only in your rectum.
Try to use the rectal form of this medicine at a time when you can lie down afterward and hold the medicine in. Avoid using the bathroom during this time.
If you are using bisacodyl before surgery or a medical procedure, follow your doctor’s instructions about the timing of your dose (the number of days or hours) before your procedure.
Remove the outer wrapper from the suppository before inserting it. Avoid handling the suppository too long or it will melt in your hands.
Lie on your side and gently insert the suppository pointed end first. For best results, hold in the suppository for a 15 to 20 minutes. The suppository will melt quickly once inserted and you should feel little or no discomfort while holding it in. Avoid using the bathroom just after you have inserted the suppository.
Shake the rectal enema gently just before use. Remove the protective cap from the applicator tip. You may use the enema lying down or seated on a toilet. Gently insert the tip into your rectum and lightly squeeze the bottle to release the enema. Hold the enema in for a few minutes and then release into the toilet.
The rectal forms of bisacodyl should produce a bowel movement within 15 minutes to 1 hour.
The tablet form of bisacodyl should produce a bowel movement within 6 to 12 hours, or overnight when taken at bedtime.
Call your doctor if you do not have a bowel movement after using this medication. Do not use bisacodyl for more than 7 days in a row unless your doctor tells you to.
Store bisacodyl at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Since bisacodyl is used only once or as needed, you are not likely to be on a dosing schedule.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.
Overdose symptoms may include watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, muscle weakness, or urinating less than usual.
What should I avoid while using Dulcolax (bisacodyl)?
Avoid using any other medications within 2 hours before or after using bisacodyl.
Avoid drinking milk within 1 hour after using bisacodyl.
Dulcolax (bisacodyl) side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
urinating less than usual or not at all; drowsiness, confusion, mood changes, increased thirst, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting; swelling, weight gain, feeling short of breath; rectal bleeding; severe stomach pain or cramps, severe or ongoing diarrhea or vomiting; or low potassium (confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling).
Less serious side effects may include:
dizziness, weakness; increased thirst; mild stomach pain, gas, indigestion; diarrhea or loose stools; mild nausea; or skin rash.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Dulcolax side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Dulcolax (bisacodyl)?
There may be other drugs that can interact with bisacodyl. Tell your doctor about all your prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.