Bisacodyl

What is bisacodyl?

Bisacodyl is a stimulant laxative available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that help temporarily relieve constipation. Bisacodyl can be found in single-ingredient oral stimulant laxative medicines and in single-ingredient stimulant laxative suppositories.

What is bisacodyl used to treat?

  • Relieves constipation
Common brands containing bisacodyl:
  • Dulcolax
  • Fleet
  • Store Brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health store brand)

How much bisacodyl can you take?

Different types of products containing this active ingredient have different strengths. That’s why it is always important to read and follow the Drug Facts label. Most medicines warn against use of an active ingredient for longer than 7-10 days. Stop use and ask a doctor if symptoms persist.

Safety guide for bisacodyl

Bisacodyl has been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to directions on the Drug Facts label. Suppositories are for rectal use only. Oral products should be swallowed whole. Do not chew or crush the medicine.

Ask a healthcare provider before use if:

  • You have abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.
  • You have already used a laxative for more than one week.
  • You have a sudden change in bowel habits that lasts for more than two weeks.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider before giving an OTC oral laxative medicine or suppository containing bisacodyl to a child under the age of 6.

Do not use if:

  • You have rectal bleeding or do not have a bowel movement.
  • You accidentally take too much oral medicine, swallow a suppository, or use more suppositories than recommended on the label. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • You have rectal bleeding.
  • You have persistent nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

What are the side effects of bisacodyl?

  • Suppositories may cause abdominal discomfort, faintness, rectal burning, and mild cramps.
  • Oral products may cause abdominal discomfort, faintness, and cramps. They should not be used within one hour after taking an antacid, milk, or milk products.