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Bisacodyl

pronounced as(bis ak' oh dil)

Why is this medication prescribed?

Bisacodyl is used on a short-term basis to treat constipation. It also is used to empty the bowels before surgery and certain medical procedures. Bisacodyl is in a class of medications called stimulant laxatives. It works by increasing activity of the intestines to cause a bowel movement.

How should this medicine be used?

Bisacodyl comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken the evening before a bowel movement is desired. Bisacodyl normally causes a bowel movement within 6 to 12 hours. Do not take bisacodyl more than once a day or for more than 1 week without talking to your doctor. Follow the directions on the package or on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take bisacodyl exactly as directed. Frequent or continued use of bisacodyl may make you dependent on laxatives and cause your bowels to lose their normal activity. If you do not have a regular bowel movement after taking bisacodyl, do not take any more medication and talk to your doctor.

Swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water; do not split, chew, or crush them.

Do not take bisacodyl within 1 hour after drinking or eating dairy products.

Other uses for this medicine

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This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What special precautions should I follow?

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Before taking bisacodyl,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to bisacodyl, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in these products. Check the label or ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • if you are taking antacids, wait at least 1 hour before taking bisacodyl.
  • tell your doctor if you have stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or a sudden change in bowel movements lasting more than 2 weeks.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking bisacodyl, call your doctor.
  • talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking this medication if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually take bisacodyl because it is not as safe or effective as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

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A regular diet and exercise program is important for regular bowel function. Eat a high-fiber diet and drink plenty of liquids (eight glasses) each day as recommended by your doctor.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

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This medication usually is taken as needed. If your doctor has told you to take bisacodyl regularly, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

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Bisacodyl may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • stomach cramps

  • faintness

  • stomach discomfort

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience this symptom, stop taking bisacodyl and call your doctor immediately:

  • rectal bleeding

Bisacodyl may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

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Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.

In case of emergency/overdose

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In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

What other information should I know?

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Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about bisacodyl.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names

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  • Carter's Little Pills®
  • Correctol®
  • Dulcolax®
  • Feen-A-Mint®
  • Fleet® Bisacodyl

Brand names of combination products

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  • HalfLytely and Bisacodyl Tablet Bowel Prep Kit® (containing Bisacodyl, PEG-3350, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride)

Last Revised - 11/15/2011

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AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2014. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.