How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Docusate sodium belongs to the family of medications known as stool softeners. It is 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 easier to pass. It usually starts to work within 1 to 3 days, but it may take up to 5 days to work.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. 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.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
This medication is available as a 100 mg capsule.
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 3 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 medications. 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 important 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 dose 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/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms listed here. The forms available for the specific 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 in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Docusate sodium should not be taken by anyone who:
- is allergic to docusate or to any of the ingredients of the medication
- has abdominal pain, nausea, fever, or vomiting
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- skin rash
- stomach or intestinal cramping
- throat irritation (if using liquid forms)
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
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 1 week and it does not seem to help with your constipation or if rectal bleeding occurs, stop using 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, fecal impaction, or intestinal obstruction.
Overuse and prolonged use: Overusing or using docusate sodium for long periods of time may cause your bowels to become dependent on the medication. Unless recommended by your doctor, do not use this medication for longer than 1 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 breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
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 medication?
There may 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 medications 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 medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, 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.