Bisacodyl - Use | Dose | Side Effects

This article was medically reviewed by M.Pharm, Marko Tanaskovic on Thu, 27 Dec 2018. To read more about an author, click here.

Bisacodyl is a medicine that belongs to the group of medicines known as laxatives. It works by stimulating bowel motility which facilitates bowel emptying. It is used to relieve symptoms of constipation.


Bisacodyl should be avoided in the following conditions:

  • In patients with bowel obstruction (intestinal obstruction)
  • In patients with ileus (blockage of the intestines caused by lack of peristalsis)
  • Patients with acute appendicitis
  • In patients with inflammatory bowel disease
  • Patients allergic to bisacodyl

Bisacodyl should not be used for more than 5 days. If there is no improvement in five days, discontinue use and contact your doctor.

Long-term use can cause a loss of electrolytes (minerals) and water from the body causing dehydration, which can be dangerous, especially in patients with kidney diseases as well as in elderly patients. Therefore, this medicine must be used with extra precautions in patients above the age of 65 as well as in the patients with renal impairment.

If you are experiencing symptoms of dehydration, such as:

  • increased thirst,
  • decreased urination, discontinue use and call your doctor.

Bisacodyl may cause a sudden loss of consciousness (syncope) and dizziness, although some authors believe these side effects should not be attributed to this medicine.

This medicine may cause bloody stools, but there is nothing to worry, because it disappear relatively quickly.

It should be avoided in patients under the age of 10, unless recommended by doctor.

Use of Bisacodyl during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Bisacodyl can be used during pregnancy only if the benefit to the mother outweighs the risk to the child. Although there is no evidence of fetal risk during pregnancy, it is advisable to avoid its use especially in the first three months of pregnancy.

This medicine do not passes into breast milk and can be used during breastfeeding.

How to use

Bisacodyl dosage form include tablets and suppositories.

The usual dose in the treatment of constipation in patients above the age of 10, is 10 mg (two tablets of Bisacodyl 5 mg), at bedtime, to produce a bowel movement the following morning.

This medicine should be used only on the advice of a doctor in children aged 5-10 years!

For preparation of diagnostic procedure, it should be taken at a dose of 10-20 mg (2-4 tablets) at bedtime and one suppository the following morning, the day of the exam.

Avoid the use of milk and dairy products, as well as some medicines used to treat heartburn and ulcers, such as:

  • antacids,
  • omeprazole,
  • esomeprazole (Nexium),
  • pantoprazole and others. These medicines may accelarate dissolution of the enteric coating on the Bisacodyl and cause stomach upset.

How to use Bisacodyl suppositories

  1. Wash your hands and remove the wrapper
  2. Lie on one side with your lower leg straightened out and your upper leg knee up towards your chest
  3. With your first finger insert the suppository, pointed end first
  4. Remain lying down for half an hour

The suppositories usually take about 20 minutes to half an hour to work.

Use with other medicines (Interactions)

This medicament should be avoided in combination with following medicines:

  • Antacids, such as:
    • aluminum hydroxide,
    • magnesium trisilicate,
    • magnesium carbonate, and others. These medicines are used to neutralize stomach acid as well as in the treatment of heartburn, ulcer and gastritis. The concomitant use of these medicines with Bisacodyl, may accelerate dissolution of the enteric coating on the Bisacodyl and cause side effects.
  • Medicines used to treat gastric ulcer, heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (called proton pump inhibitors), such as:
    • omeprazole,
    • esomeprazole,
    • pantoprazole,
    • lansoprazole, and others. The concomitant use of these medicines may accelerate dissolution of the enteric coating on the Bisacodyl and cause side effects.
  • Diuretics (known as water pills), medicines used in the treatment of heart diseases, such as:
    • hydrochlorothiazide,
    • furosemide (Lasix),
    • spironolactone,
    • triamterene,
    • amiloride,
    • bumetanide, and others. Concomitant use of Bisacodyl with these medicines, increases the risk of hypokalemia (potassium level in your blood lower than normal) or hyperkalemia (potassium level in your blood higher than normal).

Tell your doctor about all medications and herbal products you are taking.

Side effects

Bisacodyl may cause the following side effects:

  1. dehydration,
  2. abdominal pain,
  3. stomach cramps,
  4. nausea,
  5. vomiting,
  6. dizziness,
  7. sudden loss of consciousness (syncope),
  8. diarrhea,
  9. allergy and others.

Information on this website are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.