Digestive System Home > Colyte

As a laxative, colyte is used to empty the bowels the night before a colonoscopy or a barium enema x-ray exam. It comes in powder form. The powder is mixed with water to form a solution that is drunk in eight-ounce portions until the stool is watery and clear. Some of the most commonly reported side effects include nausea, vomiting, and stomach bloating.

What Is Colyte?

colyte® (polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution) is a prescription laxative solution licensed for bowel cleansing prior to a colonoscopy or barium enema x-ray examination. It comes in powder form and is dissolved in water before use.
 
(Click Colyte Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)
 

Who Makes This Medication?

colyte is made by Schwarz Pharma, Inc., for Alaven, Pharmaceutical, LLC. Generic versions are made by various manufacturers.
 

How Does Colyte Work?

colyte is an osmotic laxative. It works by drawing large amounts of water into the colon, which softens the stool and stimulates bowel movements. The resulting watery bowel movements flush out the intestines. In addition to polyethylene glycol, colyte contains electrolytes (i.e., potassium and sodium) to replace the electrolytes lost from the body in the watery stool.
 

When and How to Take It

Some general considerations to keep in mind when using colyte include the following:
 
  • colyte comes as a powder, which is dissolved in lukewarm water, and then swallowed in eight-ounce portions every 10 minutes. The medication is taken until the stool is watery and clear. It normally takes three to four liters to produce clear, watery stool.
     
  • You should drink each eight-ounce portion as quickly as possible, instead of drinking small amounts continuously.
     
  • colyte is usually taken the night before certain gastrointestinal procedures. At least one hour is needed between the appearance of the clear liquid stool and the bowel procedure.
     
  • colyte solution is prepared by filling the container to the indicated line (four-liter mark) with lukewarm water. Shake the container well to completely dissolve the powder. Also, shake the container before each dose.
     
  • Do not add any ingredients, including flavoring or other liquids. You may, however, use the flavor packet that came with the product. If you use a flavor packet, add it before the lukewarm water.
     
  • You may chill the prepared solution before starting treatment. Chilling the mixed solution in the refrigerator may help it taste better.
     
  • Any unused portion should be thrown out 48 hours after mixing.
     
  • Do not eat solid food for at least two hours before starting this medication. Ideally, you should fast for three to four hours before taking it. Ask your healthcare provider what types of food or liquids you can consume while you are using colyte and before your procedure.
     
  • It normally takes about one hour after you start drinking the solution to have your first bowel movement. Loose bowel movements will continue for one to two hours after your last dose.
     
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed.
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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