If you are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you may be prescribed Donnatal for getting relief from the symptoms of the disease. Read and know about the usage, dosage, interactions, side effects and more about this medication.

What is Donnatal?

Donnatal is a proprietary combination used for curing Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This drug combination consists of Phenobarbital, atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine. The medicine is available in different forms, such as

  • Tablets
  • Elixirs
  • Capsule
  • Extended release tablets

Donnatal Uses

Picture of Donnatal

Picture 1 – Donnatal

Earlier, Donnatol was used as a simple antacid. Later, however, its ingredients were discovered to be useful in cases related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Presently, this drug is being used in treatment of diseases like irritable colon, spastic colon, mucous colitis and acute enterocolitis. It is also being successfully used in ulcers along with other medications.

Ingredients of Donnatal Elixirs

The content of 5 ml of Donnatal Elixir is described below:

  • Phenobarbital, USP- 16.2 mg
  • Hyoscyamine Sulfate, USP- 0.1037 mg
  • Atropine Sulfate, USP-0.0194 mg
  • Scopolamine Hydrobromide, USP-0.0065 mg

The Phenobarbital belongs to the class of barbiturates and is responsible for reducing the brain activity. The other three ingredients used in this medication, i.e atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine, are belladonna alkaloids. These make the final combination useful for treatment of disorders like ulcers and IBS.

Dosage and Administration of Donnatal

The dosage of Donnatal depends on the age of the patient. You should take the dose as prescribed by the physician to avoid any chances of overdose. For instance, one-two tablespoonful of the Donnatal drug is recommended to be taken for three times a day in case of adults. The frequency of dosage may be increased depending on the severity of IBS. Moreover, the older patients also require increase amount of drug.

Side Effects of Donnatal

The medicine has been reported to give rise to a number of side effects. Know about the major negative effects of using this drug.

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsing
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Difficulties in urination (occasional)
  • Reduced sweating

In elder patents even small amount of drug is capable of producing adverse affects like excitation, seizures and loss of consciousness. In some people sexual problems like impotence and decreases interest in sex had also been reported due to Donnatal. In extreme cases, changes in the taste perception and dry mouth may occur. The side effects may vary from one person to another.

If you notice any of these side effects, you should immediately contact your doctor or pharmacist. Only a professional medical caregiver can suggest possible remedial measures to get rid of the side effects of this medication. A physician may suggest discontinuation of the drug or using any other alternative drug depending on the severity of the negative effects.

Donnatal Overdose

Image of Donnatal Elixir

Picture 2 – Donnatal Elixir Image

An overdose of this drug may result in headache, vomiting, drowsiness and mental disturbance. In some people, swallowing difficulties are also observed in case of a heavy dosage of the medication. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately. Physicians may use remedial measures like gastric lavage and emetics to handle cases of overdose. The emetics generally used in curing cases of Donnatal overdose include Physostigmine and Bethanechol chloride.

Precautions with Donnatal

As aforementioned, the drug is associated with adverse effects like drowsiness and reduced efficiency of nervous system. Due to this reason, you should avoid driving or any other strenuous job immediately after taking this medicine.

You should also avoid using the medication if you are allergic to barbiturates and belladonna alkaloids. This is a common problem with quite a few patients and requires use of other alternative drugs.

This drug also results in reduced sweating. Thus, you should avoid situations that cause overheating of the body such as vigorous exercises or stressful activities. Otherwise, serious health complications may occur.

While taking this drug, you should also avoid drinking alcohol to avoid enhanced drowsiness which can result in accidents and other complications.

Donnatal usage may reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. Due to this reason, you should look for any alternative method of family planning during a therapy involving usage of this drug. In case you are pregnant at the time you are prescribed Donnatal, you should communicate this to your doctor. Taking this drug during pregnancy may result in damage to the fetus.

Donnatal is also released in breast milk. Thus, you should not breast feed your child while you are taking this medication.

Drug Interactions of Donnatal

A number of drug interactions are possible with Donatal. Such interactions mainly occur due to the presence of belladonna alkaloids in the drugs.   Donnatal is capable of interacting with following class of drugs:

1) MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, selegiline, rasageline)

2) Bronchodilators (ipratroprium, tiotropium)

3) Urinary Medications (darifenacin, oxybutynin, tolterodine, solifenacin)

The drug is also reported to interact with individual drugs like warfarin, ketoconazole, gylcopyyrolate and propantheline. Even if you are taking any over the counter medication during the treatment, you should inform the doctor about it. It will help him/her take proper measures to avoid possible drug interactions. Neglecting this aspect can result in toxicity due to Donnatal usage or reduced efficiency of the parent drug.


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