Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.

What is GoLytely?

It is a laxative solution that increases the amount of water in the intestinal tract thereby stimulating bowel movement.


GoLytely generic name is polyethylene glycol and its therapeutic classification is laxative and hyperosmotic. Aside from polyethylene glycol, other Golytely ingredients include potassium, sodium, and other essential minerals. (1, 2)

GoLytely in powder form.photo

Image 1: GoLytely in powder form.
Photo Source: img.medscapestatic.com

A patient receiving GoLytely before a colonoscopy.image

Photo 2: A patient receiving GoLytely before a colonoscopy.
Picture Source: gemors.ru

GoLytely Uses

  • It stimulates bowel movement.
  • It is used to clean the bowel before performing intestinal procedures like
  • colonoscopy and barium x-ray. (2, 3)
  • Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
  • Cardiac-related disease
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Trouble swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Kidney-related disease
  • Low sodium level in the blood
  • History of seizures
  • History of bowel obstruction
  • If you have recently used alcohol or taking other medications
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding (4, 5, 6)

The mechanism of action

How does GoLytely promote bowel movement? The mechanism of action is through the osmotic effect of polyethylene glycol (the active ingredient of GoLytely). It causes water retention in the colon thereby producing a watery stool. In just a few hours, GoLytely will take its effect in cleansing the bowel. (6)

How do you take GoLytely? Bowel prep

GoLytely is a powder medicine. GoLytely for constipation is effective provided you take it the right way. Before taking the drug, you should dilute it first in water. Make sure you take it as prescribed or as directed by the manufacturer.

Do not take more or less than the recommended dose. Some people don’t like the taste of Golytely and so they are searching for ways on how to make golytely taste better. As much as possible, you should not add any flavouring like honey, sugar, fruit juices, or artificial sweetener.

How long does it take to drink GoLytely? Take Golytely 2 to 4 hours after your last meal. Usually, the recommended dose is 8 ounces every 10 to 15 minutes.

The mixed solution should be taken as quickly as possible. After an hour of taking Golytely, the first watery tool appears. Do not be afraid if you experience watery diarrhea a few hours after taking GoLytely.

It means that the medication is taking effect. It is its way to clean out the bowel. To prevent dehydration, it is important to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after the treatment. Make sure that your foods and drinks do not contain pulp and colorant, especially red and purple. (7, 8, 9)

Storage Instructions

Unmixed GoLytely should be stored at room temperature. You should keep it away from direct heat and moisture. On the other hand, the mixed solution should be put in the fridge in an upright position. Unused Golytely solution should be discarded within 24 to 48 hours. (9)

Golytely Dosage Instruction

The dosing varies from one patient to another. Hence, it is important to strictly follow the doctor’s order.

Usually, the amount of medicine depends on the potency or strength of the drug. For colon cleansing, adult patients should take at least 240 mL every 10 minutes. For pediatric patients, the dosage will be determined by the attending physician.

If you happen to miss a dose, you need to inform your doctor right away. Do not drink more than the recommended dose in attempt to compensate for the previous dose. In the case of overdosing, you need to seek emergency help, especially if you are experiencing difficulty breathing, hives, and facial swelling. (9)

What you should avoid when taking GoLytely?

  • Avoid taking other laxatives if you are already taking GoLytely.
  • You should not take other medications, vitamins, and supplements within an hour before taking GoLytely.
  • Why? Because there could be a possible interaction with GoLytely. There is also a possibility that the drugs you take will not be properly absorbed by the body since GoLytely will cleanse the bowel.

GoLytely Side Effects

  • Mild abdominal cramping
  • Bloating or presence of gas
  • Excessive hunger and thirst
  • Mild nausea (6)
  • Rectal irritation and pain
  • Dizziness
  • Chills (3, 10)

Special Precautions

  • It shouldn’t be given to patients with perforated bowel, bowel obstruction, severe constipation, toxic megacolon, and colitis.
  • It shouldn’t be given to patients who are allergic to polyethylene glycol.
  • It shouldn’t be given to patients with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia unless ordered by physician.
  • Inform your doctor if you have any unwanted side effects, especially if you experience decrease urine output, extreme headache, and excessive vomiting.
  • Patients with history of seizure disorder should be cautious in taking GoLytely because there have been reported cases of generalized tonic clonic seizure and loss of consciousness after taking GoLytely.
  • Some laxatives can cause cardiac arrhythmias.
  • GoLytely may cause serious fluid and serum chemistry abnormalities.
  • GoLytely should be used cautiously in patients with impaired gag reflex. As well as in patients who are unconscious or semiconscious. (4, 10)


  1. https://www.drugs.com/pro/golytely.html
  2. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-3728/golytely-oral/details
  3. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-3728/golytely-oral/details#side-effects
  4. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-3728/golytely-oral/details#precautions
  5. https://www.rxlist.com/golytely-drug.htm
  6. https://www.rxlist.com/golytely-side-effects-drug-center.htm
  7. https://www.gicare.com/medication/golytely/
  8. http://www.ndrugs.com/?s=golytely%20solution
  9. http://www.ndrugs.com/?s=golytely%20solution&t=dosage
  10. http://www.ndrugs.com/?s=golytely%20solution&t=side%20effects

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