Docusate Sodium – What are the Benefits of Docusate Sodium?

Docusate Sodium

Docusate Sodium is generally used to treat occasional constipation. A few drugs and food habits can make constipation more likely.

Docusate is usually the first medication used for treating this type of constipation. This is often taken when straining to have a bowel movement should be avoided (e.g., after a heart attack or surgery).

Coleman R Caryl and Alphons O are the founders of docusate sodium medication for a bowel movement or occasional constipation treatment.

If you are using the docusate in liquid form, measure the dose carefully with a measuring device and spoon. Do not measure the amount with a household spoon’s help because you may overdose or may get less dose.

If you purchase the medicine in drop form, use the provided dropper for dose correction, or use a dose-measuring device for the correct dose.

Docusate is the common chemical of the anion bis(2-Ethylhexyl) sulfosuccinate, commonly called dioctyl sulfosuccinate. It is an essential medication in the list of WHO.

What is  Docusate Sodium?

What is Sodium Docusate?
What is  Docusate Sodium?

Docusate Sodium is a stool softener laxative. It increases the absorption of water through stool in the gut, making the stool softer and more comfortable to pass.

Docusate is sold under the following different brand names: Colace, DSS, Albert Docusate, Docusate Calcium, docusate sodium, DulcoEase, Phillips Liqui Gels, Silence, and Soflax.

It is used to treat constipation because a few medications, surgeries, and food can make unwanted constipation. Stool softeners such as docusate is the first method used to prevent and treat this type of constipation. Docusate is generally used when it is required to have a bowel movement should be avoided, e.g. when a surgery got done.

Docusate sodium is a stool softener.  It increases the amount of water in the intestine then stool absorbs in the gut, making it softer and more comfortable to pass.

Docusate sodium is available under the following different brand names: Colace, DSS, Albert Docusate, Docusate Calcium, docusate sodium, DulcoEase, Phillips Liqui Gels, Silence, and Soflax.

History of Docusate Sodium

Docusate Sodium generally is regarded as a relatively safe pharmaceutical agent with low toxicity, but reports of toxic effects exist in the literature for horses, dogs, monkeys, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and mice after either oral or topical administration. Furthermore, fatalities in reptiles after oral use of DSS have been reported.

One study documents severe changes in gastric and oesophagal mucosa in Gopher snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus) given oral DSS at a dosage of 250 mg/kg.

Docusate sodium and docusate calcium (dioctyl calcium sulfosuccinate) act like bowel cleaner and are mostly used to soften the stool when it is desirable to lessen the discomfort.

These drugs act as anionic surfactants that produce the effect by decreasing the surface tension and allow the intestinal fluids and fatty substances to penetrate through the anus.

DSS usually require 1 to 3 days to exert their full effect if used alone, but they may be combined with other laxatives in OTC preparations.

These agents are not believed to interfere with the absorption of nutrients from the intestinal tract, and they are not appreciably absorbed.

A systematic review of treatments for constipation in The American Journal of Gastroenterology summarized evidence for docusate as Grade III level C (inadequate quality evidence, insufficient to provide a recommendation for or against use).

At best, patients are prescribed docusate are receiving a weakly effective medication, which properly helps patients. Moreover, is the possibility of harm resulting from docusate prescription because of delay in administering more effective therapies.

Docusate is frequently recommended for elderly patients because it is associated with so few side effects. Diarrhoea and mild abdominal cramps are the only adverse effects reported.

Mechanism of Action

Docusate strcture
Mechanism of Action

DSS belongs to the group of medications that comes under the category of stool softeners. It is generally used to treat and prevent occasional constipation due to hard stools. Docusate sodium works by increasing the amount of water in the stool, making stools softer and more comfortable to pass. It usually starts to work within 1 to 3 days, but it may take up to 5 days to work.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the ways or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor, or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

How should I use this medication?

For adults and children older than 12 years, the recommended dose ranges from 100 mg to 200 mg daily.

For children 6 to 12 years old, the recommended dose is 40 mg to 120 mg daily.

For children 3 to 6 years old, the recommended dose is 20 mg to 60 mg daily.

For children under three years of age, your doctor will recommend the appropriate dose.

Children under 6 years of age should not be given this medication unless recommended by a doctor.

Swallow the capsules whole with water or fruit juice. The syrup or drops should be given in 120 mL (about ½ cup) of milk or fruit juice, or in infant formula to mask the bitter taste of the medication. Use an oral syringe or dropper to measure each dose of the syrup or drops.

Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other drugs. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is essential to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double amount to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature; protect it from light, moisture, and freezing; and keep it out of the reach of children.

This medication is available under multiple brand names and in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the conditions listed here. The documents available for the particular brand you have searched are listed under “What form(s) does this medication come in?”

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

constipation mechanism
Constipation Mechanism of using Docusate Sodium

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Diabetes: Liquid forms of the medication (especially syrup) may contain large amounts of sugar.

General: If you experience a sudden change in your bowel movements that lasts for 2 weeks or more, do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor. If you take docusate sodium for one week and it does not seem to help with your constipation or if rectal bleeding occurs, stop taking this medication and contact your doctor.

Medical conditions: Docusate sodium is not recommended for people who have appendicitis, symptoms of appendicitis (e.g., nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain), bleeding from the rectum, undiagnosed bleeding, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, faecal impaction, or intestinal obstruction.

Overuse and prolonged use: Overusing or using docusate sodium for extended periods may cause your bowels to become dependent on the medication. Unless recommended by your doctor, do not use this medication for longer than one week.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if docusate sodium passes into breast milk. If you are a breastfeeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breastfeeding.

Children: Laxatives such as docusate sodium should not be given to children under 6 years of age unless recommended by a doctor.

What other drugs could interact with this?

There can be an interaction between docusate sodium and any of the following:

  • Mineral oil

In general, stool softeners should not be taken within 2 hours of other medications, since they may reduce the effectiveness of those medications. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to verify that this is the case with the medicines that you are taking.

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the drugs,
  • change one of the drugs to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the drugs, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also, tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications,

you should let your prescriber know if you use them.


Docusate was used frequently among medical inpatients at our teaching hospitals, with low deprescription and frequent new prescriptions considering its insufficient evidence for efficacy. Docusate use was every day even among patients at high risk for constipation, such as those newly prescribed opioids.

Frequent use of docusate, as a new or continued prescription, indicates many missed opportunities for mitigating polypharmacy.

Given the availability of effective therapies for constipation, our results suggest that quality-improvement initiatives are needed to promote evidence-based laxative use in hospitalized patients and discourage the use of less-effective medications such as docusate sodium. This is especially true for patients at high risk for constipation-related morbidity.


What drug class is docusate sodium?

It belongs to a class of sulfonic acid.

Is Docusate the same as Dulcolax?

Both Docusate and Dulcolax are used to treat constipation but their mechanism of action is not the same. Colace works as a stool softener and makes the stool soft.  Dulcolax works as a stimulant laxative. This generally works by stimulating the bowel movement to pass the stool.

Is Docusate sodium safe to take daily?

The recommended dose of docusate sodium is 7 days OID. If you feel to take it a few more days, ask your doctor.

What are the side effects of docusate sodium?

Stomach pain, irritation, bowel movement, intestinal obstruction, rashes and throat irritation etc,. are the common side effects.

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