Trade/other name(s): Fleet Babylax, Sani-Supp, glycerol, glycerine
Why would this drug be used?
Glycerin suppositories are used to treat constipation. You can buy them over the counter, without a prescription.
How does this drug work?
Glycerin suppository is a hyperosmotic laxative. This means it pulls water from the intestines into the stool. This stimulates the normal forward movement of intestines (peristalsis), usually resulting in a bowel movement within 15 minutes to an hour.
Before taking this medicine
Tell your doctor…
- If you are allergic to anything, including medicines, dyes, additives, or foods.
- If you have nausea, vomiting, rectal bleeding, unexplained abdominal pain, blocked intestine, or any disease of the stomach or intestine. Something other than constipation may be causing your problem, and laxatives may worsen it.
- About any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines you are taking, including vitamins and herbs. In fact, keeping a written list of each of these medicines (including the doses of each and when you take them) with you in case of emergency may help prevent complications if you get sick.
Interactions with other drugs
No serious interactions are known at this time. Check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about other medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements, and whether alcohol can cause problems with this medicine.
Interactions with foods
No serious interactions with food are known at this time. Check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about whether foods may be a problem.
Tell all the doctors, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists you visit that you are taking this drug.
How is this drug taken or given?
The glycerin suppository is inserted into the rectum and should stay there for at least 15 minutes in order to work properly.
To insert the suppository, first open the package and dip the tip in cold water. If you are right-handed, lie down on your left side, bring your knees up near your chest, and slowly insert the suppository in your rectum about an inch. You should stay in this position for about 15 minutes, then get up and wash your hands well.
Take this drug exactly as directed by your doctor, or follow the directions on the label. If you do not understand the instructions, ask your doctor or nurse to explain them to you. Store the suppositories in a safe place, out of the reach of children and pets. The refrigerator can be used to keep them cool and ready to use.
If you are taking opioid pain relievers, you will need to take laxatives regularly to counter the opioid's action on the bowel. This helps to prevent severe complications such as impaction. Talk with your doctor or nurse about the best medicines to use. Let your doctor or nurse know if you haven't had a bowel movement for 3 days.
If you are not taking opioid pain medicine and you use laxatives all the time, your body may forget the normal process of moving your bowels. You then become dependent on the laxative. Be careful not to overuse glycerin suppositories.
Over-use of some laxatives can cause diarrhea, which leads to the loss of fluids, nutrients, and electrolytes. It is very important to replace the fluid lost through diarrhea. Try to drink 2 to 3 quarts of fluid daily, especially fluids with electrolytes, such as chicken soup or sports drinks, which are helpful in replacing potassium and salt that are lost in diarrhea. Take laxatives according to the schedule prescribed by your doctor.
To help avoid constipation, try to drink 2 to 3 quarts of fluid a day. Increase the amount of fiber you eat in foods by eating fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, and whole-grain breads and cereal. Talk to your doctor about what kind of exercise may help you.
Possible side effects
You will probably not have most of the following side effects, but if you have any talk to your doctor or nurse. They can help you understand the side effects and cope with them.
- loss of normal bowel response when used on a long-term basis*
- cramping pain
- rectal irritation
- dehydration due to fluid loss in diarrhea*
- rectal inflammation or discomfort
There are some other side effects not listed above that can also occur in some patients. Tell your doctor or nurse if you develop these or any other problems.
This drug appears to pre-date the current FDA approval process, which would mean it was not required to get formal FDA approval.
Disclaimer: This information does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, or interactions. It is not intended as medical advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for talking with your doctor, who is familiar with your medical needs.
Last Revised: 11/17/2009