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What Is Dicyclomine Hydrochloride?

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  • Written By: Rebecca Harkin
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Dicyclomine hydrochloride is used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal inflammation, and implacable colic. This intestinal drug can be administered orally or through an intramuscular injection. Its mode of action is to ease the contraction of the smooth muscles lining the intestinal tract. Side effects of this drug include an irregular heart rate, disorientation, and less frequent urination. Bentyl and Dibent are the most common trade names for this medication.

Able to decrease the smooth muscle convulsions in the intestine, this medication is most often used to treat the intestinal disorders irritable bowel syndrome and spastic colon. Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition marked by aberrant bowel movements and intestinal pain. This drug is also used to treat inflammation of the lining of the intestine due to a severe infection. In infants, this drug is occasionally prescribed to treat irresolvable colic.

The mode of action for dicyclomine hydrochloride is to reduce the contraction of the intestinal muscles by acting as an antagonist against the acetylcholine-receptors in the smooth muscles of the intestine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that can stimulate muscle contraction when it binds to an acetylcholine receptor in the muscle. Dicyclomine hydrochloride prevents the binding of the acetylcholine to the receptors, inhibiting smooth muscle contraction in the intestine.

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Administration of this drug can be by mouth or through an intramuscular injection. The intramuscular injection is typically used only when the drug cannot be taken orally. Dicyclomine hydrochloride can be taken orally as a pill or a concentrated solution.

The side effects for dicyclomine hydrochloride are wide ranging. Due to the drug's mode of action on muscles, some patients experience cardiac side effects. These side effects include intense contractions or pounding of the heart and an irregular heart rate. Psychological side effects of this drug include hallucinations, disorientation, and abnormal behavior. Some patients also experience decreased urine output. Often side effects will disappear or decrease to a manageable level after the patient has been on the drug for one to two weeks or if the dose of the medication is reduced.

This drug should not be prescribed if a patient has a gastroesophageal reflux disease, severe inflammation in the colon, known as ulcerative colitis, or a blockage of the intestinal tract. Due to the tendency of this drug to reduce urine output, dicyclomine hydrochloride should also not be used if a patient has obstructive uropathy or physical blockage in the urinary tract. Patients taking this drug should also not suffer from glaucoma or myasthenia gravis, because this drug has been known to worsen these conditions.

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