Stool Softener in Constipation: Uses, Benefits And Side Effects

Constipation is a very common gastrointestinal problem faced by most of people at some stage in life. The condition can be identified as infrequent and small bowel movements which are even hard-to-pass, stool.

A patient can have constipation which is not a reason for an underlying disease, such as, dehydration, lack of fiber in the diet, lack of physical activities or side effects to medication. Some medications or health conditions can increase the risks of constipation. 

A stool softener is an easy approach and is often used to treat occasional constipation. Stool softeners like docusate is mostly the first method used to treat or prevent constipation. Docusate (a laxative in a type of stool softener) is often used to treat chronic or normal constipation. This is mostly used when the person has to strain or put pressure to pass stool.

Also Read: Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Constipation?

How to use a Stool Softener?

Docusate is a commonly used stool softener for constipation. This stool softener works by raising the water amounts that the stool absorbs in the gut. This results in a stool softer which is also easier to pass.

The best way is to follow the steps or directions mentioned on the tablets or as told by the doctor. There is no much hassle to it, just follow the directions given on the package. If you are not sure about any of the information mentioned on the product itself, consult your doctor.

It is suggested to take the medication orally, preferably at bedtime with a glass full of water ( you can also take juice instead). The dosage varies as per the medical condition and response to medication. Doctors suggest to decrease the dosage or stop taking the medication if the patient develops diarrhea.


  • Treats constipation
  • Helps relieve pain while passing stool
  • No straining on the toilet seat

Side Effects

side effects after stool softeners

Side effects of stool softener are minor and are rarely severe. Although, keep an eye for the below-mentioned symptoms while using this medication:

  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps
  • Irritated throat

 If any of the above-mentioned side effects are observed, notify your doctor. The benefits of stool softener are much greater than the risks or side effects. Most people using the medication do not experience serious side effects. (Also Read: Are Abdominal Pain and Constipation commonly related? )

A person may also have an allergic reaction to the medication. Symptoms of an allergic reaction 

  • Rash
  • Itching or swelling, mostly on the face, tongue or throat
  • Severe dizziness or feeling drowsy
  • Trouble breathing.


Before you start taking this medication, mention to your doctor about the allergies that you have, if any. This medicine may also contain inactive ingredients which may cause allergic reactions. Consult your doctor for more details.

If you have any of the below-given health conditions, consult your doctor before taking the stool softeners: 

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Change in bowel movements during the previous 2 weeks.

The medication should not be used before consulting the doctor during pregnancy or breast-feeding.


Constipation can mostly be treated by eating a high fiber diet, drinking enough water and other healthy fluids and opting a physically active lifestyle. It is suggested to use stool softeners only for temporary relief of constipation. Do not get into the habit of using it regularly or repeatedly. Using this medication for a long period can make the person dependent on stool-softeners.

Disclaimer: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for the advice, evaluation, and judgment of a doctor or medical advisor. The information is just intended to cover all possible uses, uses, precautions, interactions or side effects, and does not indicate that use of a particular medicine is safe or effective for anyone. A doctor should be consulted before commencing any such medicine or course of treatment.

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