Ep12 Cholinergic, Anticholinergic (SLUDGE)

nursing mnemonic podcast


Anticholinergics- side effects

Can’t see – burred vision

Can’t pee – urinary retention

Can’t spit – dry mouth

Can’t s*** – constipation


anticholinergic nursing mnemonic


Cholinergic Crisis – Signs and symptoms







Gastric upset



cholinergic nursing mnemonic

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Podcast Transcription

Alright, so this next memory device is to help you remember the side effects of anticholinergics. So, what is an anti-cholinergic? I just wanna explain that really quickly. And I found a really great definition on wikipedia that I thought was just the most concise best way to explain it. So, I’m just gonna read that real quick. So, an anticholinergic agent is a substance that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in essential and peripheral nervous system. They inhibit parasympathetic nerve impulses by selectively blocking the binding of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and as receptor in the nerve cells. The nerve fibers of the parasympathetic system are responsible for the involuntary movement of smooth muscles present within the GI tract, lungs, urinary tract, etc. So, there’s a lot of different uses for anticholinergics. You might even not realize some of the meds using, yourself, or giving to your patients is an anticholinergic. They’re given for GI issues, urinary issues, respiratory issues. The atropine is actually a big one that we give for symptomatic bradycardia, insomnia, dizziness, that kind of stuff. Some meds, let’s see, I wanna just tell you a few other meds. So, Benadryl, that’s a pretty well known one. Let’s see, Wellbrutin, that’s an interesting one. Atropine, Cogentin, just a ton of different ones that are out there, like the list is pretty surprising.


So, anyways, the mnemonic though, for side effects, a you can imagine, this like anticholinergic really affect a lot of systems of the body so you can have a lot of side effects from these medications. So, the memory device is you can’t see, you can’t pee, you can’t spit and you can’t shit. I should have done a little disclaimer there, that wasn’t gonna be the most politically correct one, but you won’t forget it, right? So, you can’t see, blurred vision is a side effect. You can’t pee, urinary retention. You can’t spit, you have dry mouth. And you can’t go to the bathroom, constipation. So, that’s a way to remember your side effects for anticholinergics. And another one, so, as you can imagine, if you’re getting anticholinergics or cholinergics actually in this, I’m gonna talk about a cholinergic crisis. So, the signs and symptoms that go along with the cholinergic crisis, SLUDGE. And these actually surprisingly enough are kind of opposite of your anticholinergic issues. So, SLUDGE, S – Salivation, L – Lachrymations, so that’s excessive tears, U – Urination, D – Defecation, G – Gastric upset, and E – Emesis. So, if you think it like anticholinergics are kind of drying things up, cholinergics are kinda lubricating everything. Okay, so, let me just go through that again. SLUDGE. S – Salivation, L – Lachrymation, U – Urination, D – Defecation, G – Gastric upset, and E – Emesis. You just got things coming out of everywhere. So, that’s kinda how you remember the two. Anticholinergic kinda drives things up and cholinergic crisis are kinda you’ve got stuff coming out of everywhere, out of your eyes, their bowels, their bladder, their mouth, both emesis and salivation, just got a lot going on, kind of a messy situation there with your cholinergic crisis. So, that’s what you wanna be thinking about when you’re thinking anticholinergic and cholinergic, how to differentiate the two.


This has been another episode of the nursing mnemonics podcast by NRSNG.com with your host, Katie Kleber, RN, CCRN. To grab all of our nursing cheat sheets, head over to NRSNG.com/freebies. That’s NRSNG.com/freebies. Thank you so much for being here today. We love you guys. We thank you so much. We want to see you guys succeed. Listen, we’re all in this together. Now, go out and be your best self today. Happy Nursing.


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