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Glycerine Suppositories

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Glycerine is a laxative, used to treat constipation. It is inserted rectally, and allows water and fats into the stool, allowing it to be passed more easily.
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Glycerine Suppositories

What are Glycerine Suppositories?

Glycerine suppositories are a laxative. Laxatives are used to treat constipation. Constipation is a mild condition where a person has difficulty passing faeces. Glycerine suppositories can facilitate a bowel movement and therefore relieve symptoms of constipation.

The active ingredient is glycerine. Glycerine suppositories are available on prescription from your pharmacist. Alternatively, we can prescribe them to you to treat constipation following a brief online assessment. Contact us to find out more. Glycerine suppositories are sometimes available under the brand names Colace and Pedia-Lax.

For more information information on glycerine suppositories, please read the patient information leaflet.

How it works

Glycerine suppositories are a type of stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives work to relieve constipation by stimulating nerve endings in the colon and rectum. As the nerve endings are stimulated, the muscles in the bowel contract and move the stool along to the rectum.

As a result, the bowel is emptied and your constipation relieved. Stimulant laxatives are generally recommended after other laxatives such as stool softeners, have failed to relieve your constipation.

Glycerine suppositories can begin working after around 15 minutes, so it’s best to stay near a toilet.

Before you take it

You should not take glycerine suppositories if you are allergic to any of the ingredients or materials contained in the medication, including glycerine and gelatine. Speak with your doctor or healthcare professional to discuss an alternative medication if you have an allergy to any of the medications’ ingredients.

Glycerine suppositories will be unsuitable for anyone who has suffered a gastrointestinal obstruction, including conditions such as ileus. If this applies to you, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice on a more suitable form of laxative for you to use.

It is not known whether glycerine suppositories harm an unborn baby. If you are pregnant, you should speak with your doctor for medical advice before taking glycerine suppositories. There may be safer medications, such as Lactulose or Fybogel, that you can take to treat your constipation while you are pregnant.

Do not take a glycerin suppository with any other laxative, including mineral oil laxatives like liquid paraffin, stool softeners like docusate sodium or other stimulant laxatives like bisacodyl.

It is not known whether glycerine passes into breast milk or whether it harms a nursing baby. You should not use this medication while you are breastfeeding without first speaking to your doctor. There may be safer laxatives that your doctor can recommend that you take while you are breastfeeding.

Inform your doctor of any other drugs you are taking before you take glycerine rectal suppositories. It’s possible that the suppositories may cause drug interactions with other medicines, including prescription medications and herbal remedies.

Glycerine suppositories are for the effective treatment of occasional constipation only. There are no other uses for this medication and therefore should only be used to provide relief from constipation.

To make sure a glycerine rectal suppository is safe for you to take, you must speak with your doctor or health care provider first if any of the following apply to you:

  • If you are experiencing nausea, vomiting or stomach pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • A change in bowel habits that has lasted for two weeks or more
  • If you have been or are using any other laxative for longer than one week
  • If you have toxic megacolon or ulcerative colitis
  • If you are experiencing haemorrhoids or anal fissures

This is not an exhaustive list of warnings and potential interactions. For further drug information, consult the patient information leaflet or speak with your doctor.

Dosage Instructions

You must take glycerine suppositories exactly as your doctor has told you to. Do not share this medication with anyone else. Never exceed the stated dose. If you are in any way unsure of how to take glycerine suppositories or how much to take, check the medicine label or speak with your doctor or pharmacist for clarification.

Glycerine suppositories are for rectal use only. Never swallow a glycerine suppository.

Each suppository is torpedo shaped. Remove the suppository from its plastic wrapper and run it under cold water to aid insertion. You can also use petroleum jelly as a lubricant if you are having difficulty inserting the suppository into your rectum. Lie on your left side and move your knees up toward your chest, making sure the right knee is closer to the chest than your left.

Using your right hand thumb and forefinger, carefully and gently insert the suppository into your rectum. Ensure the tip of the suppository is inserted first - it is shaped for rectal insertion. Ensure the suppository is pushed as far as possible to ensure contact with the wall of the bowel.

Lower your legs and hold in position for 15-30 minutes. If you feel as though the suppository is about to slip out of your rectum, it has not been inserted far enough. Keep your knees bent to help hold the suppository in place.

You may feel an immediate need to go to the toilet. Try to ignore this as the suppository will take at least 15 minutes to work. Wash your hands before and after use.

As with any suppository, glycerine suppositories should not be used on a daily basis. If you feel you need to take a laxative every day, speak with your doctor to find an alternative method of treatment.

Common Side Effects of Glycerine Suppositories

Glycerine suppositories, like all medication, can cause side effects. Usually mild to moderate in nature, these side effects should go away on their own and should not last long. If you experience side effects you may report them to your doctor or pharmacist. Possible side effects include:

  • Loose stools
  • Nausea or feeling sick
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Rectal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Rectal burning

Glycerine suppositories may also cause more serious side effects. You must report side effects your doctor if you experience them, as it may mean you need to take another laxative to treat your condition.

  • Severe stomach pain
  • Severe stomach cramping
  • Rectal bleeding or irritation

If a glycerine suppository does not cause you to have a bowel movement within one hour of use, call your doctor.

Glycerine suppositories also carry the risk of causing a severe allergic reaction. This is rare, but it is an emergency and if it occurs you must immediately seek medical attention. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the face, eyelids, throat, nose or mouth
  • Hives or nettle rash
  • Fever
  • Feeling faint or losing consciousness

Not all side effects are listed here. For a full list or for medical advice about side effects, check with your doctor or review the patient information leaflet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are glycerine suppositories suitable for children?

Glycerine suppositories are for use by adults only and should not be taken by children or infants. Speak with your doctor to discuss an alternative treatment for your child’s constipation. We do not prescribe any medication to anyone under 18 years old.

I’m pregnant. Can I take glycerine suppositories?

You should speak with your doctor before you start using glycerin suppositories while pregnant, as they should generally be avoided during pregnancy unless absolutely necessary. It is not known how the suppositories affect an unborn baby. There may be other, safer laxatives for you to take to treat your constipation.

What happens if I miss a dose?

As glycerine suppositories are taken only when needed, and are not for regular use, you should not be on a dosing schedule and therefore do not have to worry about missing a dose. Simply take your glycerine suppositories as your doctor has directed to relieve occasional constipation. If you have chronic constipation requiring regular laxative treatment, speak with your doctor to discuss an alternative medication.

What happens if I take too much?

You must only take one glycerine suppository at a time, following your doctor’s directions. Do not attempt to insert more than one suppository into your rectum. Overuse of glycerine may cause health problems, such as damage to the nerve endings, tissues or muscles in your intestines or rectum. Do not take more than one suppository in a 24 hour period. If you believe you have taken too much, tell your doctor. If you have swallowed a glycerine suppository, immediately seek medical help.

More Information
Dosage Instructions Please see medicine label for the dosage instructions.