Drugs Home > Polyethylene Glycol Electrolyte Solution

Polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution is a prescription laxative used to empty the bowel before certain gastrointestinal procedures. It works by drawing water into the colon, softening the stool, and causing watery bowel movements. It comes in the form of a powder, which is dissolved in water and swallowed every 10 minutes, usually until three to four liters are consumed.

What Is Polyethylene Glycol Electrolyte Solution?

Polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution (colyte®, GoLYTELY®, MoviPrep®, NuLYTELY®, TriLyte®) is a prescription medication used to cleanse the bowel prior to certain gastrointestinal (GI) procedures, such as a colonoscopy and a barium enema x-ray examination. It is a combination of polyethylene glycol 3350, which is an osmotic laxative, and electrolytes, which help replace any electrolytes lost during treatment. Polyethylene glycol comes in powder form, which is dissolved in water before use.
(Click What Is Polyethylene Glycol Electrolyte Solution Used For? for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Are There Side Effects?

Just like any medicine, polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution can cause side effects. However, not everyone who uses the drug will experience problems. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well.
If reactions do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common.
Common side effects of polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution may include but are not limited to:
  • Abdominal distention (stomach swelling) or bloating
  • Anal irritation
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal (stomach) fullness
  • Thirst
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain or cramps.
(Click Side Effects of Polyethylene Glycol Electrolyte Solution to learn more, including potentially serious side effects that you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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