Medicine & USMLE

Docusate (Stool Softener)

GI Drugs
  1. Ondansetron
  2. Sucralfate
  3. Docusate (Stool Softener)
  4. Bulk Forming Laxatives (Psyllium, Methylcellulose)
  5. Osmotic Laxatives (Lactulose, PEG)
  6. Stimulant Laxatives (Senna, Bisacodyl)
  7. Antidiarrheals (Loperamide, Diphenoxylate-Atropine)
  8. Bismuth Subsalicylate
  9. Antacids
  10. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
  11. H2 Blockers
  12. Metoclopramide
  13. Misoprostol
  14. Orlistat
  15. Octreotide


Docusate is a stool softener that is used to treat and prevent constipation. If used in excess, it can cause diarrhea.

Key Points

  • Stool Softeners
    • Also called surfactant laxatives
    • Key Drugs
      • Docusate
        • Docusate sodium (Colace)
        • Docusate calcium
    • Mechanism
      • Reduces surface tension of the stool to allow for water and fat to permeate and soften the stool, hence the name “stool softeners”
    • Clinical Use
      • Constipation
        • Often prescribed along with opioids, as opioids can cause constipation
      • Prevention of straining
        • Often prescribed post-abdominal surgery to prevent wound dehiscence associated with straining
        • May also be prescribed post-myocardial infarction, as preventing straining is thought to be helpful in reducing the workload of the heart
    • Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
      • Mild cramping
      • Bitter taste, throat irritation