Health Guide
Drug Guide

Anticholinergics and antispasmodics (Oral route, parenteral route, rectal route, transdermal route)

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Uses of This Medicine:

The anticholinergics and antispasmodics are a group of medicines that include the natural belladonna alkaloids (atropine, belladonna, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine) and related products.

The anticholinergics and antispasmodics are used to relieve cramps or spasms of the stomach, intestines, and bladder. Some are used together with antacids or other medicines in the treatment of peptic ulcers. Others are used to prevent nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness.

Anticholinergics and antispasmodics are also used in certain surgical and emergency procedures. In surgery, some are given by injection before anesthesia to help relax you and to decrease secretions, such as saliva. During anesthesia and surgery, atropine, glycopyrrolate, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine are used to help keep the heartbeat normal. Scopolamine is also used to prevent nausea and vomiting after anesthesia and surgery. Atropine is also given by injection to help relax the stomach and intestines for certain types of procedures.

Anticholinergics are used to treat poisoning caused by medicines such as neostigmine and physostigmine, certain types of mushrooms, and “nerve” gases or organic phosphorous pesticides (eg, demeton [Systox®], diazinon, malathion, parathion, and ronnel [Trolene®]). Anticholinergics can be used for painful menstruation, runny nose, and to prevent urination during sleep.

The anticholinergics and antispasmodics are available only with your doctor's prescription.

Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in product labeling, anticholinergics and antispasmodics are used in certain patients with the following medical conditions:

Before Using This Medicine:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to medicines in this group or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Children

Unusual excitement, nervousness, restlessness, or irritability, and unusual warmth, dryness, and flushing of the skin are more likely to occur in children. Children are usually more sensitive to the effects of anticholinergics. Also, when anticholinergics are given to children during hot weather, a rapid increase in body temperature may occur. In infants and children, especially those with spastic paralysis or brain damage, this medicine may be more likely to cause severe side effects. Shortness of breath or difficulty with breathing has occurred in children taking dicyclomine.

Older adults

Confusion or memory loss; constipation; difficult urination; drowsiness; dryness of the mouth, nose, throat, or skin; and unusual excitement, nervousness, restlessness, or irritability may be more likely to occur in the elderly. The elderly are usually more sensitive than younger adults to the effects of anticholinergics. Also, eye pain may occur, which may be a sign of glaucoma.

Pregnancy

If you are pregnant or if you may become pregnant, make sure your doctor knows if your medicine contains any of the following:

Breast-feeding

Although these medicines may pass into the breast milk, they have not been reported to cause problems in nursing babies. However, the flow of breast milk may be reduced in some patients. The use of dicyclomine is contraindicated and should not be used in nursing mothers because it has been reported to cause breathing problems in infants.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking any of these medicines, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with a medication in this class or change some of the other medicines you take.

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of medicines in this class. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

To use any of these medicines by mouth:

To use the injectable form of dicyclomine:

To use the rectal suppository form of scopolamine:

To use the transdermal patch form of scopolamine:

Take this medicine only as directed. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.

Dosing

The dose medicines in this class will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of these medicines. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Do not refrigerate. Keep from freezing.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Keep the liquid form of this medicine tightly closed and keep it from freezing. Do not refrigerate the syrup form of this medicine.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

If you think you or someone else may have taken an overdose, get emergency help at once. Taking an overdose of any of the belladonna alkaloids or taking scopolamine with alcohol or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants may lead to unconsciousness and possibly death. Some signs of overdose are clumsiness or unsteadiness; dizziness; severe drowsiness; fever; hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there); confusion; shortness of breath or troubled breathing; slurred speech; unusual excitement, nervousness, restlessness, or irritability; fast heartbeat; and unusual warmth, dryness, and flushing of skin.

These medicines may make you sweat less, causing your body temperature to increase. Use extra care not to become overheated during exercise or hot weather while you are taking this medicine, since overheating may result in heat stroke. Also, hot baths or saunas may make you dizzy or faint while you are taking this medicine.

Check with your doctor before you stop using this medicine. Your doctor may want you to reduce gradually the amount you are using before stopping completely. Stopping this medicine may cause withdrawal side effects such as vomiting, sweating, and dizziness.

Anticholinergics and antispasmodics may cause some people to have blurred vision. Make sure your vision is clear before you drive or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are not able to see well. These medicines may also cause your eyes to become more sensitive to light than they are normally. Wearing sunglasses may help lessen the discomfort from bright light.

These medicines, especially in high doses, may cause some people to become dizzy or drowsy. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or are not alert.

Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may occur, especially when you get up from a lying or sitting position. Getting up slowly may help lessen this problem.

These medicines may cause dryness of the mouth, nose, and throat. For temporary relief of mouth dryness, use sugarless candy or gum, melt bits of ice in your mouth, or use a saliva substitute. However, if your mouth continues to feel dry for more than 2 weeks, check with your medical doctor or dentist. Continuing dryness of the mouth may increase the chance of dental disease, including tooth decay, gum disease, and fungus infections.

For patients taking scopolamine:

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

Rare
Confusion (especially in the elderly)
dizziness, lightheadedness that continues, or fainting
eye pain
skin rash or hives
Incidence not known
Cough
difficulty with swallowing
fast irregular, pounding, or racing heartbeat or pulse
fever
hives or welts
hoarseness
irritation
itching skin
joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
redness of the skin
shortness of breath
skin rash
tightness in the chest
trouble with breathing
wheezing

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
Constipation
decreased sweating
dryness of the mouth, nose, throat, or skin
Less common or rare
Bloated feeling
blurred vision
difficult urination
difficulty with swallowing
drowsiness
false sense of well-being
headache
increased sensitivity of eyes to light
loss of memory
nausea or vomiting
redness or other signs of irritation at the place of injection
trouble with sleeping
unusual tiredness or weakness
Incidence not known
Decreased interest in sexual intercourse
inability to have or keep an erection
loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
loss of taste

For patients using scopolamine:

After you stop using scopolamine, your body may need time to adjust. The length of time this takes depends on the amount of scopolamine you were using and how long you used it. During this period of time check with your doctor if you notice any of the following side effects:

Anxiety
irritability
nightmares
pupil of one eye is larger (patch only)
sensitivity of eyes to light (patch only)
trouble in sleeping

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Last Updated: 10/12/2016

Thomson Micromedex. All rights reserved.

Thomson & A.D.A.M