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I live with a condition called Hypermobility that causes pain in my joints that means that I take regular doses of codeine based medication. One of the side-effects of codeine that really affects me is constipation, especially as constipation itself is a symptom of hypermobility. Even without taking codeine I'm not what you call regular, but should I need to take the codeine more than once a day for more than a couple of days I getting completely bunged up. While Senna based constipation remedies would be my medication of choice, I do like to chop and change my constipation medication now and again so that my body doesn't become used to or rely on one drug to clear out. A remedy that I recently tried were the Superdrug Constipation Relief tablets that cost me £1.99 for twenty tablets each containing 5mg of the active ingredient, Bisacodyl along with various other ingredients. Bisacodyl is exactly the same drug as is present in the far more expensive Ducolax tablets and it is present in exactly the same dosage.
The box these tablets comes in is fairly discrete, if you could ever call a constipation remedy discrete. It is clearly labelled as containing constipation relief tablets, but doesn't scream it out for all to see. As these tablets are available without prescription or the need to speak to a pharmacist they are easy to slip into your shopping basket without drawing attention to the fact that you're not exactly regular in the toilet department (although having suffered with constipation for many years, I've long since gone beyond embarrassment). The box itself contains basic safety information and then there is also a leaflet that goes into more detail. But the basic instructions are that these tablets should only be taken by those over the age of ten and should not be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women without consulting a doctor. The usual dose is one or two tablets to be taken at night with a glass of water and that the tablets should be swallowed whole as they have a special coating to protect the stomach. These tablets should not be taken for an extended period of time and if you find you need to take them regularly then you should consult a doctor. There is also information on the leaflet regarding contraindications (who should not take it) and possible side-effects. As with any medication I would recommend reading this leaflet and speaking to your doctor or pharmacist if there's anything that concerns you or you don't understand.
The tablets are held within foil blister strips of ten and are easily removed from their foil casing. Once removed from the blister strip, the tablets are small, tiny in fact at well under half a centimetre in diameter. While this minuscule size does mean that they are very easy to swallow it also means they are easily dropped and harder to find if they fall on the floor. As they are so tiny the tablets are extremely easy to swallow, although to be honest I have no problem dry swallowing old fashioned paracetamol and should they stay in the mouth for any length of time they simply taste sweet and shouldn't make you gag.
When I first bought these I was in the middle of an extended period of constipation, not having passed any motions for almost a week and so I decided to take two of the tablets. I took the tablets at about ten at night hoping that I would feel the effects at about eight the next morning. The active ingredient, Bisacodyl is what is known as a stimulant laxative, that is it works by stimulating the enteric nerves to cause the colon to evacuate. This means that I did not expect the tablets to soften my stools, nor make the movement more comfortable, but simply to make the need to evacuate irresistible. When I take Senna based laxatives I generally find that I do not feel the effects during the night and am simply ready to poo when I wake up in the morning, but with these tablets I was woken in the early hours with cramping and an uncomfortable gurgling. I also found that these tablets gave me an exceptional number of "bottom burps" as they worked, with this discomfort actually being worse than the constipation especially as they hadn't actually worked enough at this point to cause a motion.
By about eight the next morning the gurgling and cramps had almost disappeared and I actually thought the tablets simply hadn't worked as they should and I had resigned myself for another day of feeling bloated. But at around ten I suddenly found myself need the toilet with very little notice. As expected the tablets did not make going any easier, but they did make it so that I could not hold it in and simply had to go. Once the blockage had passed, the tablets continued to work and continued and continued, causing explosive motions combined with severe stomach cramps every thirty minutes or so for the rest of the day. This left me feeling dehydrated, uncomfortable and plain sore as even when there was nothing left to pass, I was getting that feeling that I had to go. By bedtime that night I was absolutely exhausted, starving (there felt like there was nothing left inside me) and yet scared to eat in case more spasms would start.
After having such a bad experience with these tablets I simply put them away and swore never to take them again and I stuck to this for about a month, until I was in another bout of constipation and had run out of my Senna based tablets. This time I simply took the one tablet, hoping that by reducing the dose I would reduce the effects. But no such luck, my experience was almost exactly the same, with it just taking longer for the first motion to make an appearance. After this second experience I simply threw the rest of the tablets away as there are remedies that produce far more comfortable results for me.
I asked if I would recommend these tablets, I would have to say no. Although they do ultimately do what they are supposed to, in my case the added discomfort and pain are simply not worth the end results, especially as other remedies produce the same results without the excessive diarrhoea, cramping and pain. To be perfectly blunt, the diarrhoea was so bad that I was scared to bottom burp just in case I leaked poo. So I'm giving the Superdrug Constipation Relief Tablets one star out of five, with them getting that one star simply because they do work and I'm not allowed to give zero.