HOW DO ANTICHOLINERGIC ANTISPASMODIC AGENTS WORK?
Anticholinergic antispasmodic agents are a class of medications used to treat various conditions that involve contraction and relaxation of muscles including gastrointestinal cramps, muscle spasms, and diarrhea. Anticholinergics block the action of acetylcholine (a chemical messenger) released by the nerves for the contraction of muscles. Blocking of acetylcholine inhibits involuntary muscle movements and various other bodily functions. Antispasmodics slow down the natural movements of the gut and help in relaxing the muscles of the stomach and intestine.
These are administered as regular and slow-acting tablets, usually taken three or four times a day, 30 minutes before meals and at bedtime.
Anticholinergic antispasmodic agents work in the following ways:
- They block the action of a neurotransmitter called “acetylcholine” in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
- Acetylcholine is responsible for transferring signals between certain cells that perform specific bodily functions (including digestion, urination, salivation).
- They block acetylcholine from binding to its receptors on certain nerve cells which inhibits the involuntary muscle movements in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, and other areas of the body.
- Anticholinergic agents decrease the acid production in the stomach that slows down the natural gut movements, thus relaxing the muscles in many organs such as the stomach, intestines, kidney, and bladder.
- In addition, they decrease the amount of body fluids (saliva, sweat).
- The movement of food along the gut occurs because of the muscles in the gut that contract and relax in a regular pattern throughout the length of the gut.
- This muscle contraction is because of certain chemicals produced by the body, which attach to the special receptors on the muscles.
- Antispasmodics attach to these receptors prohibiting the chemicals from binding to the receptors that lead to reduce muscle contractions.
- They also act on the brain to produce a calming effect that helps in reducing anxiety.
HOW ARE ANTICHOLINERGIC ANTISPASMODIC AGENTS USED?
Anticholinergic antispasmodic agents are used for treating the following:
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Peptic ulcer disease (sores that develop in the lining of the stomach, lower esophagus, or small intestine)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (an intestinal disorder causing pain in the stomach, diarrhea and constipation)
- Abdominal cramps
- Diverticulitis (small, bulging pouches that can form in the lining of the digestive system)
- Cramping pain caused by:
- Kidney stones
- Gall stones
- Preoperative medication to:
- Overactive bladder (causes a frequent and sudden urge to urinate that may be difficult to control)
- Parkinson’s disease (a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty in walking, balance, and coordination)
- Sialorrhea (drooling or excessive salivation-a common problem in neurologically impaired children)
- Pylorospasm (spasm of the pyloric sphincter often marked by pain and vomiting)
WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF ANTICHOLINERGIC ANTISPASMODIC AGENTS?
Common side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Dizziness (feeling faint, weak, or unsteady)
- Loss of taste
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased sweating
- Abdominal bloating
- Other rare side effects include:
- Confusion/mental dullness
- Urine retention
- Hallucinations (involve hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, or even tasting things that are not real)
- Memory problems
- Blurred vision
- Trouble urinating
- Trouble breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of coordination
- Decreased sexual ability
Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.
Digestive Disorders Resources