What Factors Affect a Sufficient Docusate Dose?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Patients exhibiting signs of appendicitis should not be given docusate.
Patients exhibiting signs of appendicitis should not be given docusate.

An appropriate docusate dose can depend largely on a patient’s age and medical history. This stool softening medication may be recommended to treat constipation if a patient is having trouble passing stool, and can be taken orally or administered in the form of an enema. Before a medical provider recommends docusate, the patient may be carefully screened to identify potential interactions or concerns that might indicate the medication is not safe. Patients should discuss any over the counter medications and recent changes in bowel habits during this medical history.

Adults can take a docusate dose ranging between 50 and 500 milligrams, depending on the formulation and the severity of the constipation. Children typically need smaller doses, especially if they are under age two. A medical practitioner may calculate a custom dose based on the patient’s weight to reduce the risk that the child receives too much. It can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several days for formulations of this medication to work and if necessary the dose can be increased.

One concern with a docusate dose is that larger amounts can be more likely to cause diarrhea and abdominal cramping. It may be advisable to start low to determine if that resolves the problem before proceeding to a higher dose. The medication is also intended for short term use, and shouldn’t be used for more than a week without specific medical advice. Constipation that lasts more than seven days can also be a cause for concern as it may be the result of an obstruction or another medical problem that should be addressed with a different treatment approach.

Patients with signs of appendicitis and abdominal obstruction shouldn’t take this medication. It may also not be advised for those recovering from significant abdominal surgery or severe trauma to the abdomen. Other stool softeners are available to reduce the strain on the abdominal wall caused by constipation with lower risks for the patient. If side effects like extreme cramping, pain, and heavy diarrhea develop, the docusate dose may be too high, or the patient could be having another medical problem that needs to be addressed separately.

In some cases a clinician may recommend taking a docusate dose for longer than seven days. The appropriateness can be determined on a case by case base after evaluating patients for risk factors and concerns. Other measures to address constipation may also be considered, such as making dietary adjustments or evaluating other medications the patient may be taking to determine whether their doses can be altered to make the patient more comfortable.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Patients exhibiting signs of appendicitis should not be given docusate.
      By: joshya
      Patients exhibiting signs of appendicitis should not be given docusate.