docusate calcium

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any of a group of anionic surfactants widely used as emulsifying, wetting, and dispersing agents.
docusate calcium an ionic surfactant used as a stool softener.
docusate potassium an anionic surfactant used as a stool softener; administered orally.
docusate sodium an ionic surfactant used as a stool softener.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

docusate calcium

Apo-Docusate Calcium (CA), Calax (CA), DC Softgels, Novo-Docusate Calcium (CA), PMS-Docusate Calcium (CA), Ratio-Docusate Calcium (CA), Soflax C (CA), Stool Softener DC, Surfak Liquigels

docusate sodium

Apo-Docusate Sodium (CA), Colace, Correctol, Correctol Stool Softener (CA), Diocto, Dioctyl (UK), Docusol (UK), Dom-Docusate Sodium (CA), D.O.S. Softgels, Docu-Soft, DOK, D-S-S, DulcoEase (UK), Dulcolax Stool Softener, Enemeez, Genasoft Softgels, Norgalax (UK), Novo Docusate (CA), PHL-Docusate Sodium (CA), PMS-Docusate Sodium, Ratio-Docusate Sodium (CA), Selax (CA), Silace

Pharmacologic class: Emollient

Therapeutic class: Stool softener, surfactant

Pregnancy risk category C


Increases absorption of liquid into stool, resulting in softening of fecal mass. Also promotes electrolyte and water secretion into colon.


docusate calcium

Capsules: 240 mg

Capsules (soft gels): 240 mg

Rectal solution: 283 mg/5 ml

docusate sodium

Capsules: 50 mg, 100 mg, 250 mg

Capsules (soft gels): 100 mg, 250 mg

Liquid: 150 mg/15 ml

Syrup: 50 mg/15 ml, 60 mg/15 ml, 20 mg/5 ml, 100 mg/30 ml, 150 mg/15 ml

Tablets: 100 mg

Indications and dosages

Stool softener

Adults and children older than age 12: 240 mg (docusate calcium) or 50 to 200 mg (docusate sodium) P.O. daily until bowel movements are normal

Children ages 6 to 12: 40 to 120 mg (docusate sodium) P.O. daily

Children ages 3 to 6: 20 to 60 mg (docusate sodium) P.O. daily


• Hypersensitivity to drug

• Abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting

• Intestinal obstruction


Use cautiously in:

• pregnant or breastfeeding patients.


• Give tablets and capsules with full glass of water.

• Give liquid solution with milk or fruit juice.

• Be aware that excessive or long-term use may lead to laxative dependence.

Adverse reactions

EENT: throat irritation

GI: nausea, diarrhea, mild cramps

Skin: rash

Other: bitter taste, decreased appetite, laxative dependence


Drug-drug. Mineral oil: increased mineral oil absorption, causing toxicity

Warfarin: decreased warfarin effects (with high doses)

Patient monitoring

• If diarrhea occurs, withhold drug and notify prescriber.

• Know that therapeutic efficacy usually becomes apparent 1 to 3 days after first dose.

Patient teaching

• Instruct patient to drink sufficient fluids with each dose and to increase fluid intake during the day.

• Advise patient to prevent constipation by increasing fluids and consuming more dietary fiber (as in fruits and bran).

• Inform patient that excessive or prolonged use may lead to laxative dependence.

• As appropriate, review all other significant adverse reactions and interactions, especially those related to the drugs mentioned above.

McGraw-Hill Nurse's Drug Handbook, 7th Ed. Copyright © 2013 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
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