The effects of docusate may arise from the direct laxative effects of the molecule on the intestinal mucosa, or the indirect action of local endogenous prostaglandins released from the intestine upon contact with docusate. Docusate may involve multiple mechanisms of action. It stimulates the net secretion of water, sodium, chloride, and potassium and inhibits the net absorption of bicarbonate in the small intestine in vivo. It also induces active electrolyte secretion by increasing mucosal cAMP concentrations, as cAMP inhibits coupled sodium chloride entry and stimulates active chloride secretion in vitro. In vivo, the actions of cAMP are involved in inhibiting bicarbonate absorption in the jejunum. These changes promote the passive secretion of water and potassium. Docusate may partially involve impaired solute absorption such as glucose and bicarbonate by increasing the rate of desquamation of epithelial cells and mucosal cell damage. Mucosal damage may lead to the formation and release of local prostaglandins. Altered mucosal permeability may also be seen with docusate.
Docusate is used to treat constipation, and in painful anorectal conditions such as hemorrhoids and anal fissures, to help avoid pain caused by straining during bowel movements.
Given orally, the effects usually are seen 1 to 3 days after the first dose. Given rectally, as an enema or suppository, a bowel movement usually occurs within 5 to 20 minutes.
The drug may be used in people who are receiving opioid medication, although prolonged use may cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. Data supporting its efficacy in treating chronic constipation are lacking.
The effectiveness of laxatives for constipation in those receiving palliative care is unclear, as it has not been sufficiently studied. The comparative effectiveness of different laxatives in this group also is unclear as of 2015.
Docusate sodium, when used with ear syringing, may help with earwax removal, particularly in the case of impaction.
Docusate sodium may be given by mouth or rectally. It also is used as an emulsifier and dispersant in topical preparations. When taken by mouth it is typically recommended with plenty of water.
Docusate salts rarely cause side effects since they are not absorbed into the body. Occasional side effects may include
Throat irritation has occurred in some patients after taking liquid formulations of docusate orally.
Excessive use of docusate may cause low electrolyte levels and may also result in dependence. Docusate should not be used in people with
Adult and Pediatric Dosage Forms and Strengths
Capsule as sodium
Capsule as calcium
Tablet (adult only)
Enema, Rectal (Sodium)
Dosage Considerations – Should be Given as Follows:
Excessive use may result in dependence.
If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor, health care provider or pharmacist first.
Docusate has no known severe, serious, or moderate interactions with other drugs.
Mild interactions of docusate include:
This information does not contain all possible interactions or adverse effects. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share this information with your doctor and pharmacist. Check with your health care professional or doctor for additional medical advice, or if you have health questions, concerns or for more information about this medicine.
Keep out of reach of children. In case of overdose, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.
Effects of Drug Abuse
Pregnancy and Lactation