What Are the Most Common Polyethylene Glycol Side Effects?

Meshell Powell
Meshell Powell
Intravenous fluids and medications may be given to treat or prevent dehydration.
Intravenous fluids and medications may be given to treat or prevent dehydration.

Polyethylene glycol side effects are generally mild and do not cause the patient to stop using the medication, although any persistent or bothersome side effects should be discussed with a doctor for further medical evaluation. Some of the most commonly reported side effects of this medication include nausea, increased hunger or thirst, and rectal irritation. More serious side effects which should be reported to a doctor right away include confusion, dehydration, or allergic reaction. Any questions or concerns about potential polyethylene glycol side effects on an individual basis should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

One form of polyethylene glycol is used to treat constipation.
One form of polyethylene glycol is used to treat constipation.

Gastrointestinal disturbances are among the most frequent polyethylene glycol side effects. These symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, or stomach cramps. Intestinal bloating or gas may also occur as a result of taking this medication. These symptoms are normally mild and may disappear once the body adjusts to the drug. Any persistent or bothersome side effects should be reported to a doctor for further medical evaluation. The doctor may prescribe additional medications to combat these side effects or recommend a different dosage or treatment method.

Mild diarrhea may sometimes occur when taking polyethylene glycol. If bowel movements become excessively frequent or if rectal bleeding develops, this may signal the presence of severe complications which need to be medically evaluated. Extreme vomiting or diarrhea may lead to dehydration, so it is important to consume plenty of fluids. Severe cases of dehydration may need to be treated in a hospital setting through the use of intravenous fluids.

Some patients carry a higher risk of developing complications due to potential polyethylene glycol side effects. This includes elderly patients as well as those with underlying kidney problems. The medication should be used with caution in pregnant or breastfeeding women. It is generally wise to discuss the benefits and risks of using this drug with a doctor before beginning treatment.

Occasionally, a severe and potentially life threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis may occur when using this medication, even if it has been well-tolerated in the past. These polyethylene glycol side effects may include symptoms such as facial swelling, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms should be treated as a medical emergency, as permanent damage to the brain, or even death, may occur within minutes if not treated immediately. A patient who experiences an anaphylactic reaction will generally be prescribed a special injectible medication known as epinephrine to carry at all times in the event of a recurrence.

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    • Intravenous fluids and medications may be given to treat or prevent dehydration.
      Intravenous fluids and medications may be given to treat or prevent dehydration.
    • One form of polyethylene glycol is used to treat constipation.
      One form of polyethylene glycol is used to treat constipation.