Constipation is a common medical problem that can become more dangerous over time. When issues of constipation begin to cause significant medical problems, such as discomfort, pain, and risk of blockage, laxatives can be used to clean out the intestines. Bisacodyl is one of many forms of laxative available today. Dulcolax is the common branded version of Bisacodyl, which is currently available over the counter. It's always important to speak to your doctor about long-lasting issues of constipation, which may be a sign of an underlying health concern.
What is Dulcolax?
Dulcolax is the brand name of a laxative drug used to treat constipation. The active ingredient in this medication is bisacodyl, which may also be available in its generic form. Dulcolax is a form of laxative that belongs to a group known as "stimulant" laxatives. These medications work to increase the tremors and motions in the tiny finger-like substances within the intestinal wall. These tiny tissues are known as Villi, and they work to improve the motion of substances within the intestine, including food and fecal matter. If you're unable to go to the bathroom because of a blockage in your gut, or problems caused by a lack of moisture in your bowels, then Dulcolax may be able to help move things along.
Dulcolax is available over-the-counter without a prescription. However, it's usually a good idea to speak to a doctor about issues of constipation, particularly if they are ongoing. Constipation may be a sign of underlying conditions.
When is Dulcolax used?
Dulcolax is used primarily to treat constipation, however, it can be challenging to define what "constipation" is for any specific person. Most people will go to the bathroom to empty their bowels at least three times per week. However, other people might not go as often - and this may simply be due to their natural cycle. Under medical supervision, Dulcolax can also be used for the evacuation or cleaning of the intestines before a medical examination. It is sometimes used as an alternative to an enema. The substance works by stimulating the lining of the lower bowel and promotes the accumulation of water within the bowel to make stools softer. Dulcolax does not alter the way that calories are absorbed within the lower intestine and cannot be used for weight loss purposes.
Dulcolax is rarely prescribed for people who have chronic constipation, as doctors will attempt other forms of laxative before relying on a stimulant.
How do you use Dulcolax?
Dulcolax is available in tablet form, and in the form of a suppository that can be inserted into the anus. When taking this medication by mouth, follow the instructions either given by your doctor or provided on the patient leaflet within the product packaging. If you're not sure about any of the information provided with this drug, ask your doctor or pharmacist before you begin using it.
Dulcolax should be swallowed whole with a drink of water. It is important not to chew or break the tablet, and it should not be taken within an hour of eating milk products, drinking milk, or using antacids. Using this medication with milk-based products can increase your risk of nausea and stomach pain. It's not necessary to take Dulcolax with food, although some people find that this helps to reduce their chances of negative side effects. You should never take more of this medication than directed, even if you're concerned that it isn't working. Additionally, it is important not to take Dulcolax for longer than seven days unless you are directed to do so by a doctor.
It will often take between 6 and 12 hours for Dulcolax to cause a bowel movement. If your condition persists or worsens, then you will need to speak to your doctor.
What dosages are available?
The dosage provided for Dulcolax will depend on the seriousness of your condition and how you respond to treatment. You will also get a different dosage depending on how you plan to take the medication. If you are using the pill form of Dulcolax then you will usually be given 5mg tablets which you can swallow whole. It is also possible to get Dulcolax as 10mg suppositories.
Children between the ages of 6 and 11 years old can take a single Dulcolax tablet or half of a suppository. If your child suffers frequently from constipation however, they may need to see a doctor as constipation may be a sign of other underlying issues. Children under the age of 6 are not able to use Dulcolax. Children over the age of 12 and adults will be able to use a single 10mg suppository once per day of Dulcolax, or they can take up to three 5mg tablets in a single dose per day. Adults should not use more than 30mg of Dulcolax in a day.
What are the side effects of Dulcolax?
Although Dulcolax can be an effective treatment for constipation, there's a chance that it may cause some issues with side effects in certain people. It's common to experience problems of abdominal cramping, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, and weakness in the muscles when using Dulcolax. If you notice any of these conditions or other side effects, then it's worth speaking to your doctor. Most of the side effects that you experience with Dulcolax will pass by themselves when you have had a bowel movement. However, if the symptoms persist, then you may need to seek emergency help or treatment. Dulcolax rarely causes serious side effects, but if you notice the following symptoms, it is important to speak to a doctor as quickly as possible:
- Decreased urination
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Cramping in the muscles
- Weakness in the muscles
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fainting or dizziness
- Mood changes including confusion
Dulcolax does not often cause significant allergic reactions, but it is always important to be aware of the risk of an allergic reaction when you're taking a new medication. Make sure that you contact an emergency medical centre or call an ambulance if you notice swelling in the throat, tongue or face. Other signs of an allergic reaction include severe dizziness, problems with breathing and a rash.
There may be other side effects besides the ones listed above associated with Dulcolax.
When shouldn't you use Dulcolax?
Before you begin taking medicine for constipation like Dulcolax, or anything that contains bisacodyl, speak to your doctor and let them know if you're allergic to any typical ingredients that might appear in medications. You can also speak to a pharmacist to get more details.
Additionally, it's worth talking to your doctor about your medical history, particularly if you have a background that includes issues with your bowels. If you have had problems with an appendicitis in the past, nausea or vomiting, or a sudden change in bowel movements, speak to your doctor. Additionally, you should not be taking Dulcolax if you:
- Have severe stomach pain or cramps and don't know why
- Feel nauseous or are constantly vomiting and you don't know why
- Have a blockage in your intestines or stomach
- Have ileus issues with weak or delayed muscle contractions in the intestines
- Have a hole in your intestines or stomach
- Have an infection that affects your intestines or stomach
- Are bleeding from the anus
- Have appendicitis
- Have an issue with inflammatory bowel disease
Speak to your doctor if you're pregnant before you begin taking Dulcolax. Using a pill like this one for too long during pregnancy may be dangerous. Additionally, it's unknown whether this medication will pass into breast milk. Speak to your healthcare professional before nursing on Dulcolax.
Does Dulcolax interact with any other medications?
Sometimes, the effect that certain drugs have on your body can differ if you take other medications and herbal products alongside them. This may increase your risk of suffering from more serious side effects. Additionally, taking Dulcolax with other medications could mean that this drug or other medications do not work correctly.
To ensure that you're not taking any dangerous combinations of drugs, speak to your doctor or pharmacist about any existing medicines that you're taking, including products that you have purchased over the counter, and herbal remedies. When taking this drug, do not start taking other medications without the approval of your doctor.
Some of the products that interact with Dulcolax include:
- H2 blockers
- Medications that decrease stomach acid
- Proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole
- Aluminum hydroxide
- Magnesium carbonate
- Calcium carbonate
Where can you buy Dulcolax?
Dulcolax and many other laxatives are available to buy over the counter online or in pharmacies. However, just because you can get these medications without your doctor's approval doesn't mean you shouldn't speak to a doctor first. Dulcolax can be dangerous to take with other medications and may not be the right treatment for you.
Can you get Dulcolax without a prescription?
Dulcolax is available without a prescription, but it might not be the best treatment for your constipation, so it is often a good idea to speak to a doctor or pharmacist before using this medication. You should also look into whether your constipation may be caused by a more serious underlying condition if you are having recurring issues.
Drugs.com, online, Updated 2018, Dulcolax-side-effects, [Accessed on 26th of June 2019], Available on: https://www.drugs.com/sfx/dulcolax-side-effects.html
Medicine.net, online, Bisacodyl-Oral, [Accessed on the 26th of June 2019], Available on: https://www.medicinenet.com/bisacodyl-oral/article.htm
Sanofi, online, Updated 2018, Dulcolax 5mg Gastro-resistant tablets, [Accessed on the 26th of June 2019], Available on: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/5508/smpc