Docusate sodium should only be taken for a short time.
Eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and getting regular gentle exercise can all help maintain good bowel function.
Avoid cakes, pastries, sweet puddings and caffeinated drinks - these can all make constipation worse.
About docusate sodium
|Type of medicine||Stimulant laxative|
To clear the bowel before medical examinations
|Available as||Capsules and oral liquid|
Docusate sodium is used to treat constipation and is sometimes used to clear the bowel before medical examinations which require the bowel to be empty.
Constipation can be caused by a poor diet, not drinking enough water and not going to the toilet as soon as you feel the need to. Pregnancy, a lack of exercise or movement (such as being ill in bed) and some medicines, including some painkillers, can also cause constipation.
Docusate sodium works by encouraging the muscles in the bowel to move stools through the body. It also works by drawing water into the bowel, which softens the stools, making them easier to pass out of the body.
Before taking docusate sodium
Before taking docusate sodium make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have severe pain in the abdomen and feel sick.
- If you have intestinal obstruction (a blocked bowel).
- If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal or complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
How to take docusate sodium
- Before beginning treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet.
- Take your docusate sodium exactly as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.
- Docusate sodium takes about 1-2 days to start working, so do not be concerned if your constipation is not relieved immediately.
- Docusate sodium should only be used for a short time. This is because the bowel can start to rely on this type of laxative to make it work rather than working on it's own. If you are still constipated after taking docusate sodium for a few days you should speak to your doctor.
- Do not give stimulant laxatives such as docusate sodium to a child unless a doctor has prescribed them.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Many people take laxatives when they do not need to because they believe that they should go to the toilet every day. This is not the case as for many people it is normal not to go to the toilet every day.
- A healthy diet containing fibre (whole grain breads and cereals, bran, fruit and green leafy vegetables) with 6 to 8 full glasses of water each day and daily exercise are important in maintaining healthy bowel function. For people who have problems with constipation, food such as pastries, puddings, sugar, sweets, cheese and cake can make matters worse.
Can docusate sodium cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, all medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Rare side-effects||What can I do if I experience this|
|Abdominal cramp||If this is troublesome speak to your pharmacist or doctor|
|Diarrhoea||Stop taking the docusate sodium, as diarrhoea is usually caused by taking laxatives unnecessarily or for too long|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store docusate sodium
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Never keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 59th Edition (March 2010) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Dioctyl® Capsules; Manufacturer's PIL, Dioctyl® Capsules, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated November 2007, accessed March 2010.
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen|
|Last Checked: 21/10/2010||Document ID: 3399 Version: 22||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.