Gastrointestinal Tract

Muscarinic antagonists have numerous effects on the digestive system (see Chapter 40). The inhibition of salivation by low doses of atropine results in a dry mouth and difficulty in swallowing. Antimuscarinic drugs also inhibit gastric acid secretion and gastrointestinal motility, because both processes are partly under the control of the vagus nerve. Relatively large doses of atropine are required to inhibit acid secretion, and side effects such as dry mouth, tachycardia, ocular disturbances, and urinary retention are drawbacks to the use of muscarinic antagonists in the treatment of peptic ulcers.

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