What You Need To Know About Bentyl (Dicyclomine)

Prescribing, Dosing, Side Effects, And Use During Pregnancy And Nursing

Woman With Capsule
Bentyl is one drug that needs to be timed with your meals. It should be taken 30 to 60 minutes before eating. Image © Glow Images / Getty Images
  • Bentyl is an antispasmotic drug
  • Bentyl is sometimes prescribed to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Only the amount of Bentyl prescribed should be taken
  • Taking antacids at the same time as Bentyl can reduce its effectiveness
  • People taking Bentyl should not drink
  • Constipation can be a side effect of Bentyl
  • Breastfeeding mothers should not take Bentyl

What Is Bentyl?

Bentyl (dicyclomine) is a type of drug known as an anticholinergic. It is also an antispasmodic that prevents spasms in the muscles of the gut and bladder by causing those muscles to relax. This drug also reduces the amount of acid produced in the stomach.

How Is Bentyl Taken?

Bentyl comes in the form of a capsule, a tablet, and an oral liquid. It is usually taken four times per day. For best results, Bentyl should be taken 30 minutes to 1 hour before eating a meal. Bentyl should not be taken at the same time as an antacid (such as brands that can be bought over-the-counter, including Tums, Rolaids, Gaviscon, Maalox, and Mylanta). Antacids can reduce the effectiveness of Bentyl.

The dosage of Bentyl needed will be determined by the prescribing physician. Take this medication exactly as prescribed. In some cases, the starting dose might be 20 mg four times a day. After this dosage is taken for a week, the dose might be increased to 40 mg four times a day.

Why Is Bentyl Prescribed?

Bentyl may be prescribed to treat conditions such as IBS, diverticulosis, colic, and bladder spasms.

What Do I Do If I Miss A Dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If your next dose should be taken soon, just take that dose. Don't double up, or take more than one dose at a time.

Who Should Not Take Bentyl?

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any of the following conditions:

Side Effects

Serious side effects of Bentyl include mental changes such as confusion, short-term memory loss, hallucinations, or agitation. In most cases, these side effects will go away during the 12 to 24 hours after the patient stops taking Bentyl.

Some of the more common side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, and dizziness. Bentyl could also lead to a decreased ability to perspire (which can contribute to heat stroke). 

Are There Any Sexual Side Effects?

Bentyl has caused impotence in some men who take it.

What Medications Can Bentyl Interact With?

Bentyl may interact with the certain other medications. Tell the prescribing physician if any of these medications are also prescribed:

  • Symmetrel (Amantadine)
  • Antacids (discussed above)
  • Antidepressants (Haldol, Elavil)
  • Antihistamines (Benadryl)
  • Cardiac rhythm regulators (Pronestyl, quinidine)
  • Tagamet (Cimetidine)
  • Lanoxin (Digoxin)
  • Reglan (Metoclopramide)
  • Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors (Nardil, Parnate)
  • Prednisone
  • Sedatives (Ambien, Dalmane, Restoril)
  • Thiazide diuretics (Dyazide, hydrochlorothiazide)

Are There Any Food Interactions?

Bentyl is not known to interact with any foods. People taking Bentyl should avoid alcoholic drinks as the two together could have an increased sedative effect. Take care to avoid alcohol from unexpected sources, such as over-the-counter cough suppressants or products to treat colds (Nyquil, for example). Bentyl can cause constipation, and patients should get enough fiber and drink enough water to counteract this effect.

Is Bentyl Safe During Pregnancy?

The FDA has classified Bentyl as a type B drug. The effect that Bentyl has on an unborn child has not been studied extensively. Bentyl should only be used during pregnancy if clearly needed. Notify the prescribing doctor if you become pregnant while taking Bentyl.

Bentyl should not be taken by women who are breastfeeding a baby. Bentyl does pass into breast milk, and could affect a nursing infant. Children under 6 months of age may experience severe side effects from this drug. Bentyl can suppress the production of breast milk in nursing mothers.

How Long Can It Be Taken Safely?

Under the supervision of a physician, Bentyl can be safely used long-term.

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