1. About Buscopan
It can also help bladder cramps and period pain.
Buscopan contains the active ingredient hyoscine butylbromide.
Buscopan comes as tablets and is available on prescription. Buscopan also comes as 2 different products that you can buy from a pharmacy or shop:
- Buscopan Cramps
- Buscopan IBS Relief
It can also be given by injection, but this is usually only done in hospital.
2. Key facts
- Buscopan relieves the pain of stomach cramps by helping your gut to relax.
- The medicine works very quickly. Painful cramps should ease within 15 minutes.
- It's unusual to have any side effects, but some people get a dry mouth, constipation and blurred vision.
- Buscopan comes on prescription and as 2 different products (Buscopan IBS Relief and Buscopan Cramps) that you can buy from a pharmacy or shop.
- If you're self-treating with Buscopan, do not take it for longer than 2 weeks without checking with a doctor.
3. Who can and cannot take Buscopan
Most adults and children from 6 years of age can take Buscopan.
Only take Buscopan IBS Relief tablets if your doctor has said that you have irritable bowel syndrome.
Important: Giving Buscopan to children
Do not give Buscopan Cramps tablets to children under the age of 6 years.
Do not give Buscopan IBS Relief tablets to children under the age of 12 years.
Who may not be able to take Buscopan
Buscopan is not suitable for some people.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking Buscopan if you:
- ever had an allergic reaction to Buscopan or any other medicine
- a rare type of glaucoma called acute angle closure glaucoma (Buscopan can increase the pressure in the eye and make your glaucoma worse)
- a very enlarged bowel
- myasthenia gravis (a condition where the muscles become weak and tire easily)
- a condition where your bowel is blocked and does not work properly, such as paralytic ileus
- are 40 years or over
- are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding
- have recently passed blood in your poo
- are feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting)
- have lost your appetite or lost weight
- are feeling tired and looking paler than usual
- have unusual vaginal bleeding or vaginal discharge
- think you may have food poisoning (especially if you have recently travelled abroad)
- have a very fast heart rate or any other heart problems
- have difficulty or pain when peeing (for example, men with prostate problems)
- have an overactive thyroid
- have a high temperature
- have digestive problems such as heartburn and acid reflux, severe constipation or ulcerative colitis
4. How and when to take Buscopan
Always follow the advice of your doctor or pharmacist or the instructions that come with Buscopan.
Dosage and strength
Each Buscopan tablet contains 10mg of hyoscine butylbromide. Buscopan tablets are all the same strength whether you get them on prescription or whether you buy them as Buscopan Cramps or Buscopan IBS Relief.
The usual dose of Buscopan for stomach cramps (or cramping pain) in adults and children aged 12 years and over is 2 tablets, taken 4 times a day.
For children aged 6 to 11 years, the usual dose is 1 tablet, taken 3 times a day.
The usual dose of Buscopan for symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) diagnosed by a doctor in adults and children aged 12 years and over is 1 tablet, taken 3 times a day. You can increase this to 2 tablets, taken 4 times a day if needed.
When to take Buscopan
Take Buscopan tablets when you have stomach cramps or period pain.
Buscopan does not usually upset your stomach, so you can take it with or without food.
Only take Buscopan IBS Relief if a doctor has confirmed that you have IBS.
What if I forget to take it?
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until it's nearly time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take the next one at the usual time.
Never take 2 doses at the same time. Never take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten one.
If you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to remember to take your medicines.
What if I take too much?
If you take an extra dose of Buscopan, it's unlikely to harm you.
Speak to your pharmacist or doctor if you're worried, or if you have taken more than 1 extra dose.
5. Side effects
Like all medicines, Buscopan can cause side effects in some people, but most people have no side effects or only minor ones.
Common side effects
These side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or do not go away:
- dry mouth
- blurred vision
- fast heart rate
Serious side effects
It happens rarely, but some people may have a serious side effect when taking Buscopan.
Stop taking Buscopan and call a doctor straight away if you:
- get a painful red eye with loss of vision (this could be caused by increased pressure in your eye)
- find it hard to pee
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to Buscopan.
Immediate action required: Call 999 now if:
- your lips, mouth, throat or tongue suddenly become swollen
- you're breathing very fast or struggling to breathe (you may become very wheezy or feel like you're choking or gasping for air)
- your throat feels tight or you're struggling to swallow
- your skin, tongue or lips turn blue, grey or pale (if you have black or brown skin, this may be easier to see on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet)
- you suddenly become very confused, drowsy or dizzy
- someone faints and cannot be woken up
- a child is limp, floppy or not responding like they normally do (their head may fall to the side, backwards or forwards, or they may find it difficult to lift their head or focus on your face)
You or the person who's unwell may also have a rash that's swollen, raised, itchy, blistered or peeling.
These can be signs of a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
These are not all the side effects of Buscopan. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
You can report any suspected side effect using the Yellow Card safety scheme.
6. How to cope with side effects of Buscopan
What to do about:
- dry mouth – chew sugar-free gum or suck sugar-free sweets
- constipation – get more fibre into your diet, such as fresh fruit, vegetables and cereals, and drink plenty of water. Try to exercise more regularly, for example, by going for a daily walk or run. If this does not help, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
- blurred vision – do not drive or ride a bike until you can see clearly again. Do not take your next dose of Buscopan if your vision is still blurry. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if your vision has not returned to normal a day after taking your last dose.
- fast heart rate – if this happens regularly after taking Buscopan, try to take your medicine at a time when you can sit or lie down when the symptoms are worst. It may also help to cut down on alcohol, smoking, caffeine and big meals, as these can make the problem worse. If you're still having symptoms after a week, speak to your doctor. You may need to change to a different type of medicine.
7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Buscopan and pregnancy
Buscopan is not thought to be harmful in pregnancy. However, because there is only very limited information on its use in pregnancy, it's not generally recommended.
If you think you need to take Buscopan in pregnancy, talk to your doctor of pharmacist who will help you decide, or may recommend other medicines for you.
Buscopan and breastfeeding
Buscopan is not usually recommended while breastfeeding. However, some people may still need it. It's better to only take occasional doses or only take it for a short time.
It's not known how much Buscopan gets into breast milk, but it's likely to be a small amount. Buscopan may also reduce the amount of milk you produce.
If you're breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, talk to your doctor or pharmacist, as other medicines might be better while you're breastfeeding. If they say it's OK for you to keep taking Buscopan, monitor your baby for possible side effects, such as sleepiness, constipation, peeing less than usual and colic.
If your baby is not feeding as well as usual, or you have any other concerns about your baby while you're breastfeeding, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, health visitor or midwife.
Non-urgent advice: Tell your doctor if you're:
- trying to get pregnant
For more information about how Buscopan can affect you and your baby during pregnancy, read this leaflet on the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website.
8. Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines and Buscopan can affect each other and increase the chances of you having side effects.
This is because they can cancel each other out and stop each other from working. Metoclopramide and domperidone increase the movement of the gut, whereas Buscopan reduces it.
Some medicines increase the risk of side effects if you take them at the same time as Buscopan, including:
- medicines for allergies such as antihistamines
- some medicines for depression, such as amitriptyline
- some medicines for mental health problems like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, such as clozapine or chlorpromazine
- amantadine (taken for Parkinson's disease)
- quinidine or disopyramide (heart medicines)
- some inhaled asthma medicines, including salbutamol, ipratropium and tiotropium
Do not take Buscopan together with other irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) remedies, as they work in the same way. You're unlikely to get extra relief for your symptoms, and it may cause more side effects. Take only one IBS remedy, unless your doctor tells you to take more than one.
Mixing Buscopan with herbal remedies and supplements
There's not enough information to say that complementary medicines and herbal remedies or supplements are safe to take with Buscopan.
They're not tested in the same way as pharmacy and prescription medicines. They're generally not tested for the effect they have on other medicines.
Important: Medicine safety
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal medicines, vitamins or supplements.
9. Common questions about Buscopan
How does Buscopan work?
Buscopan relieves stomach cramps and period pains by helping your digestive system and bladder relax.
It does this by reducing the wave-like contractions of the muscle in the walls of the stomach, bowel and bladder.
Buscopan helps to treat stomach cramps and period pains, but does not cure them.
When will I feel better?
Buscopan tablets start to work within 15 minutes. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if your symptoms do not improve within 2 weeks.
Can I take Buscopan for a long time?
Do not take Buscopan for longer than 2 weeks unless your doctor tells you to.
Talk to your doctor if your symptoms change, get worse or have not improved after 2 weeks. Your doctor will want to rule out an illness that may be causing your symptoms.
Buscopan is safe to take for a long time (more than 3 months) as long as you get advice from your doctor, you take the recommended dose and you're not having any side effects.
What's the difference between Buscopan products?
Buscopan Cramps and Buscopan IBS Relief are essentially identical.
The tablets in each contain the same active ingredient (hyoscine butylbromide) and in the same strength (10mg).
But the 2 products are marketed differently.
Buscopan Cramps is targeted at stomach cramps. It can also be used to relieve period pain and the cramping pains some people get with IBS. It's only available from behind the pharmacy counter, and can be taken by adults and children over the age of 6 years.
Buscopan IBS Relief is targeted at IBS that's been confirmed by a doctor. It's for adults and children aged 12 years old and over. The dose can be varied according to how severe your symptoms are. It's available from supermarkets as well as pharmacies.
Where can I buy Buscopan?
Buscopan IBS Relief is available from most pharmacies and supermarkets.
Buscopan Cramps is only available from behind the pharmacy counter.
Can I take Buscopan with other IBS remedies?
Do not take Buscopan at the same time as other irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) remedies – just take one type of remedy at a time.
Are there other IBS remedies?
Peppermint oil and mebeverine are also antispasmodic remedies. They work in a similar way to Buscopan to relax stomach muscles and ease painful cramps.
Both peppermint oil and mebeverine are available to buy from pharmacies. Mebeverine is also available on prescription.
Will it affect my fertility?
There's no evidence to suggest that taking Buscopan will reduce fertility in either men or women.
If you're trying to get pregnant and you take Buscopan regularly, speak to a pharmacist or your doctor. They may want to review your treatment.
Can I drive or ride a bike?
Buscopan can give you blurred vision or make you dizzy. If this happens to you, do not drive, cycle or use machinery or tools until it's worn off.
It's an offence to drive a car if your ability to drive safely is affected.
It's your responsibility to decide if it's safe to drive. If you're in any doubt, do not drive.
GOV.UK has more information on the law on drugs and driving.
Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you're unsure whether it's safe for you to drive while taking Buscopan.
Can I drink alcohol with it?
Yes, you can drink alcohol with Buscopan.
Can lifestyle changes help?
There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to prevent or ease painful stomach cramps and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It can really help to understand which, if any, foods trigger your cramps and then reduce or remove them from your diet.
Common triggers include caffeine, fizzy drinks and fried food.
Aim to exercise 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Regular activity is good for your digestive system.