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Dulcolax (Bisacodyl) is a drug that falls under the category of stimulant laxatives and is prescribed to treat constipation on a temporary basis.

It may also be prescribed in case of irregularity in normal bowel movements. In some cases, it is also used to flush out the bowels before a surgery, colonoscopy, X-rays and other intestinal procedures. However, some people use it as a weight-loss drug as well, which is not a clever idea at all.

How Does Bisacodyl Work?

Bisacodyl causes a bowel movement by increasing the activity of the intestines. They stimulate the nerves in the colon, which in turn cause the intestinal muscles to contract and expel their contents.

How Should Bisacodyl be Used?

Bisacodyl is available as a tablet to be taken by mouth, or it may be administered as a rectal suspension (suppository). It normally causes a bowel movement within six to eight hours, and is generally to be taken the evening before a bowel movement is required. Only one tablet per day is to be taken and usually for not more than a week. However, use the medicine as strictly advised by your doctor.

What Side-effects can Bisacodyl Cause?

Using Bisacodyl to frequently treat constipation may result in drug-dependence, leading to the bowels losing their normal activity. Other side-effects may include:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Faintness
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal irritation
  • Excessive loss of fluids and electrolytes

In case of suppositories, Bisacodyl may cause the following:

  • Irritation or burning sensations of the rectal mucosa
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Pain in the anal region

Who Should Not Use Bisacodyl?

Always consult with your doctor before using any drug, prescription or otherwise. Bisacodyl should not be used if you:

  • are using drugs such as Aspirin or warfarin
  • are pregnant; since they may cause early labor
  • are allergic to a certain ingredient in the composition of the drug
  • are using a diuretic
  • have had prior gastrointestinal complications (bowel obstruction, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis)
  • have kidney disease

Bisacodyl as a Weight-loss Drug

It is a common misconception that using laxatives helps and even causes weight loss.

This is absolutely false, and may even lead to certain long-term detrimental effects on health.

Bisacodyl is a drug that is involved solely in stimulating the intestines and producing a relieving bowel movement. It is not in any way intended to aid or cause weight loss, and should neither be prescribed nor used for such purposes.

The slight and immediate weight loss that is seen with the use of laxatives has nothing to do with reduction of excess fats in the body. It is actually the surplus loss of fluids and electrolytes that causes the fall in weight. Since Bisacodyl is a relatively strong intestinal stimulant, continued and prolonged use may lead to dehydration and hospitalization. Coupled with an inadequate diet, such a regime may lead to:

  • excessive bloating
  • interference with absorption of certain medicines
  • loss of essential nutrients and antioxidants from the body
  • hypovolemic shock; rare but a fatal condition

Hence, the use of Bisacodyl or any category of laxatives for weight-loss is seriously unadvised, and should only be used as a short-term reliever of constipation.

In daily practice, it has been noticed that people suffering from "bulimia nervosa" are usually found using laxatives as a weight loss.

Briefly speaking, taking Dulcolax (Bisacodyl) tablets for losing weight is a big mistake. Don't even think of it.

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