Do not take methylcellulose just before bedtime.
If you are taking methylcellulose for constipation, drink plenty of water with these tablets.
If you are taking methylcellulose for diarrhoea, take these tablets with as little water as possible.
|Type of medicine||Bulk-forming laxative|
|Used for||To manage bowel function (constipation and diarrhoea)|
Methylcellulose is used to regulate bowel function. It can help manage constipation or diarrhoea.
Constipation is a common problem. It means either going to the toilet less often than usual to empty your bowels, or passing hard or painful stools. Constipation may be caused by not eating enough fibre or not drinking enough fluids. Pregnancy, a lack of exercise or movement (such as being ill in bed) and some medicines, including some painkillers, can also cause constipation. Methylcellulose works by absorbing water and swelling to a soft gel consistency in your bowel. This increases the bulk of your stools, which encourages your bowels to move the stools through your digestive system.
Because methylcellulose works by absorbing water from the bowel and changing the consistency of stools, it can also be used to manage diarrhoea and to help regulate the passage of food through the digestive system in people with certain long-term bowel disorders. These include irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhoids, diverticular disease, ulcerative colitis and after some types of bowel surgery.
Before taking methylcellulose
Before taking methylcellulose make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you find it difficult to swallow.
- If you are so constipated that you think you may have a blockage.
- If you have been told you have a bowel infection.
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding. (Methylcellulose may be used during pregnancy or breast-feeding, but it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows about this.)
- If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
How to take methylcellulose
- Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the brand of methylcellulose you have been given.
- Take methylcellulose tablets exactly as you have been told to. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how many tablets to take and when to take them, and these instructions will also be on the label of the pack. It is usual to be given a dose between 3 and 6 tablets, twice a day. Do not take methylcellulose just before bedtime.
- Methylcellulose should only be taken by children on the advice of a doctor or a healthcare professional experienced in the management of constipation in children.
- If you are taking methylcellulose for constipation, swallow the correct number of tablets with a large glass (300 ml) of water. You can break up the tablets in your mouth before you swallow. It is important for you to drink plenty of water at the same time as taking methylcellulose.
- If you are taking methylcellulose for diarrhoea, swallow the correct number of tablets with just a drink of water. You can break up the tablets in your mouth before you swallow. Avoid drinking any other fluid for 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after you take the tablets. It is, however, important that you drink plenty of water for the rest of the day, to prevent you from becoming dehydrated.
- If you forget to take a dose, do not worry, just take the next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
The following information applies if you are constipated:
- Sometimes it may take a few days before you feel the full benefit from a bulk-forming laxative such as methylcellulose. However, if after several days you do not feel your symptoms are improving, or if they get worse, you should speak with your doctor.
- It is important to drink plenty. You should aim to drink at least two litres (about 8-10 cups) of fluid per day. Most sorts of drink will do but, as a start, try just drinking a glass of water 3-4 times a day in addition to what you normally drink.
- Try to eat a balanced diet containing high-fibre foods such as wholemeal and whole-grain breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables, brown rice and wholemeal pasta. If you are not used to a high-fibre diet, it may be best to increase the amount of fibre you eat gradually.
- Keeping your body active will help you to keep your digestive system moving, so try to take some regular daily exercise.
- You may wish to include some foods that contain sorbitol in your diet. Sorbitol is a naturally occurring sugar. It is not digested very well and draws water into your bowel, which has an effect of softening stools. Fruits (and their juices) that have a high sorbitol content include: apples, apricots, gooseberries, grapes (and raisins), peaches, pears, plums, prunes, raspberries and strawberries.
Can methylcellulose cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Possible methylcellulose side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Flatulence (excess wind), bloating, abdominal discomfort||These effects should soon settle down as your body adjusts but, if they continue or become troublesome, speak with your doctor or pharmacist|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store methylcellulose
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Never keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Dr Hannah Gronow|
|Last Checked: 19/01/2012||Document ID: 3224 Version: 24||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.