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Supportive Care

Brand names:

Colace®, Dulcolax®, Pedia-Lax®, DocuSol®

Other names:

Docusate Calcium, Docusate Potassium, Docusate Sodium

Often used for:


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About Docusate

Docusate is a stool softener used to treat occasional constipation and hard stools. It may also be used to empty bowels before surgery or other medical procedures. It works by increasing the water content of stools.

Docusate is available over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription. Some products may use a combination of docusate and senna.

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May be taken as a liquid by mouth

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May be taken as a tablet or capsule by mouth

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May be given rectally as an enema

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Possible Side Effects

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea

Not all patients who take docusate will experience these side effects. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Tips for Families

Be sure to discuss these and other recommendations with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Docusate may be used on an as-needed basis.
  • This medicine should not be used for more than 1 week unless directed by a health care provider.
  • Do not take other laxatives without talking to a doctor or pharmacist.
  • Do not take more often or in greater amounts than recommended.

Docusate at home:

  • Take medicine at bedtime if taking once per day.
  • Take docusate with a full glass of water.
  • For liquid docusate, mix with milk or juice as instructed to help with the bitter taste. Use the measuring device that comes with the medicine.
  • Give a missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time.
  • Store at room temperature.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.
  • Follow instructions for safe storage and disposal.