Dulcolax Stool Softener: Dosage And Side Effects

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Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni

Key Takeaways

  • When used as directed, Dulcolax Stool Softener can ease occasional constipation.
  • If you need help determining the appropriate dose, talk to your doctor or read the label carefully.
  • Stomach pain, diarrhea, and sickness are all possible side effects. These side effects typically don’t last long and aren’t severe.
  • If any side effects become severe or persistent, you should stop using the product and seek medical attention.


When occasional constipation strikes, many people reach for Dulcolax Stool Softener. It helps to soften the stool and pass more easily thanks to the active ingredient docusate sodium. However, for safe and effective use, it is crucial to have accurate information regarding the correct dosage and any possible side effects. This article will cover everything you need to know about Dulcolax Stool Softener. Speak to your doctor if you have been taking Dulcolax for days but your condition does not improve.

What is Dulcolax Stool Softener?

Dulcolax is classified as a stimulant-free laxative used for occasional constipation. Dulcolax is a stool softener available as liquid gels:

Medication Brand NameDulcolax® Stool Softener
Active IngredientDocusate sodium
ManufacturerBoehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals
Drug ClassStimulant-free laxative, Stool softener
Common UsesRelieves occasional constipation
Dosage FormsLiquid Gels
Common SideAbdominal cramps and discomfort
StorageStore Dulcolax at 20°-25°C. Keep it away from humidity.

What is Dulcolax stool softener used for?

The drug Dulcolax stool softener (Docusate sodium) is a stimulant-free laxative taken to relieve the symptoms of constipation. It is a stool softener that is available for use over the counter. You can take Dulcolax Stool Softener for the temporary relief of infrequent constipation. 

For those who experience pain or difficulty passing hard, dry stools, Dulcolax Stool Softener can be a lifesaver. It relieves occasional constipation by making bowel movements easier and more comfortable, thanks to the stool-softening effect. There is no other recommended use of Dulcolax stool softener. For severe cases of persistent constipation Dulcolax tablets and Dulcolax suppositories are available on prescription.

Get gentle relief from hard and painful stool with Dulcolax Stool Softener

How long does it take for Dulcolax stool softener to work?

As a laxative without stimulants, Dulcolax Stool Softener usually takes between 12 and 72 hours to work. Because factors like metabolism and hydration level vary from person to person, the time it takes for the stool softener to begin working can also vary.

When taken orally, Dulcolax Stool Softener moves through the digestive system and softens stools by allowing water to penetrate them. Because this is a gradual process that can take hours or even days, you may not feel the full effect for up to three days.

Keep in mind that Dulcolax Stool Softener is only meant for temporary relief of infrequent constipation. If your symptoms do not improve or if they persist or worsen after 72 hours, you should see a doctor for further evaluation and advice.

How does Dulcolax stool softener work?

Dulcolax Stool Softener contains docusate sodium, a mild emollient and surfactant. It works by increasing the absorption of water by the stool, making it more pliable and easier to pass. The active ingredient docusate sodium lowers the surface tension of faeces, making it easier for water to mix with and be retained by the stool. 

Unlike stimulant laxatives, Dulcolax Stool Softener does not work by directly stimulating the bowel muscles. Instead, it works by adding water to the stool, which softens it and makes it easier to pass waste regularly. 

The table below summarizes the difference between the two:

FeatureDulcolax Stimulant-Free Stool SoftenerDulcolax Stimulant-Containing Laxative
Active ingredientDocusate sodiumVaries (typically bisacodyl)
Dosage FormLiquid GelsTablets or Suppositories
Mechanism of actionIncreases water absorption by the stoolDirectly stimulates bowel muscles
Stool softening effectSoftens the stool by lowering the surface tensionStimulates bowel muscles for movement
PurposeRelieves occasional constipationProvides short-term relief from constipation
Duration of useShort-term use onlyShort-term use recommended
Dependence riskLowLow

Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to medications, so it’s best to follow the directions on the Dulcolax Stool Softener package or talk to a doctor for specific guidance.

Read More: Poop Looks Like Coffee Grounds – Causes and Treatments

Dulcolax stool softener dosing information

Dulcolax Stimulant-Free Stool Softener has varying dosing instructions depending on the individual. Always read and follow all label directions or seek the advice of a qualified medical professional for the best course of action. Below are the dosing instructions recommended by healthcare professionals and the manufacturer:

  1. For adults and children 12 years of age and over, the recommended dose of Dulcolax Stimulant-Free Stool Softener is 1 to 3 capsules daily.
  2. You can take this dose as a single daily dose or divide it into multiple doses throughout the day, as advised by your healthcare professional.
  3. It is important to swallow the capsules whole with a full glass of water. Remember to follow the instructions provided on the product packaging and consult a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns.
  1. For children between 2 and under 12 years old, the recommended dose is one capsule daily. Children under two years of age should consult a doctor for appropriate dosing guidance.
  1. Please note that dosing instructions may vary depending on the specific formulation and concentration of Dulcolax Stimulant-Free Stool Softener available in your region. Always refer to the product packaging or consult a healthcare professional for accurate and personalized dosing recommendations.

Here is a summary of the Dulcolax Stimulant-Free Stool Softener dosing information:

Patient GroupDosing
Adults and children 12 years and over1 to 3 capsules daily. This dose may be taken as a single daily dose or in divided doses.
Children 2 to under 12 years old1 capsule daily
Children under 2 years oldAsk a doctor

Another medication Dulcolax Pink Stool Softener is also used to relieve occasional constipation. It is a specific variant of this product. Dulcolax Pink Stool Softener also contains the active ingredient docusate sodium. The dosage and administration of Dulcolax Pink Stool Softener are similar to the regular Dulcolax Stool Softener.

Stimulant-free stool softener for constipation relief

What happens if you take too much Dulcolax stool softener? 

When taken in excess, docusate sodium, the active ingredient in Dulcolax Stool Softener, can cause unwanted side effects and even serious complications. The following guide may help to make informed decisions if you have overdosed on Dulcolax:

  1. Overdose of Dulcolax Stool Softener, which stimulates bowel movement, can cause diarrhea by producing stools that are loose or watery.
  1. If you take too much of the stool softener, you may experience abdominal pain, discomfort, and cramping.
  2. If you or someone you know has taken too much Dulcolax Stool Softener, get medical help right away.

Can you take Dulcolax stool softener daily?

Use of Dulcolax Stool Softener for an extended period of time or at excessive doses has the potential to upset your body’s electrolyte balance. Symptoms like muscle weakness or irregular heartbeat may develop as a result of dehydration or a shift in blood electrolyte levels (such as low potassium levels).

Although Dulcolax Stool Softener has been shown to be generally safe for short-term use, it is important to note that excessive or prolonged use should be avoided unless directed by a healthcare professional. 

You should talk to a doctor if you find yourself taking a stool softener every day for an extended period of time. They can take a look at your symptoms, do an in-depth evaluation, and give you advice on how to handle your constipation properly. In order to improve your bowel function, they may suggest making certain changes to your lifestyle, diet, water intake, or other interventions.

What are the Dulcolax Stool Softener side effects?

When taken as prescribed, docusate sodium, the active ingredient in Dulcolax Stool Softener, is well tolerated by most people. Like any medication, however, it may have unwanted side effects in some people. Potential Dulcolax Stool Softener side effects include:

  1. Some people who take Dulcolax Stool Softener may experience stomach pain, discomfort, or cramping.
  1. Dulcolax Stool Softener has been linked to diarrhea in some users. This typically occurs because of more frequent bowel movements.
  1. Some users of Dulcolax Stool Softener have reported feeling nauseous after using the product.
  1. Although it is uncommon, some people may experience mild to severe allergic reactions after using Dulcolax Stool Softener. If you develop a rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, or trouble breathing, you should see a doctor immediately.

Are there any drugs or food to avoid using Dulcolax?

Yes, there are certain drugs and foods that may interact with or affect the effectiveness of Dulcolax Stool Softener. It’s important to be aware of these interactions to ensure the safe and optimal use of the medication. Here are some examples:

Antacids and Milk

Avoid taking Dulcolax within one hour of consuming antacids or milk, as they can interfere with the effectiveness of the medication.


Diuretic medications, which increase urine production, may interact with Dulcolax and potentially lead to electrolyte imbalances. It’s important to inform your healthcare professional if you are taking diuretics.


Concurrent use of Dulcolax and corticosteroids may increase the risk of electrolyte imbalances. It’s advisable to inform your healthcare professional if you are using corticosteroid medications.

Other Laxatives

Using multiple laxatives simultaneously can lead to excessive bowel stimulation and potentially cause unwanted side effects. Avoid using other laxatives without consulting a healthcare professional.

Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit juice may interact with certain medications, including Dulcolax, by affecting the way they are metabolized in the body. It’s best to consult your healthcare professional regarding the consumption of grapefruit juice while taking Dulcolax.

How are Dulcolax Tablets and Suppositories different from Dulcolax stool softeners?

Dulcolax is available in both tablet and suppository form, with the active ingredient bisacodyl. While both treatments are intended to alleviate constipation, they differ in their administration and may have different onset times.

Dulcolax Tablets

Dulcolax Tablets are tablets that can be swallowed to help with constipation. The coating keeps the active ingredient safe until it reaches the intestines, where it can then dissolve. When the tablet reaches the intestinal tract, it triggers muscle contractions there to encourage bowel movement. This stimulation aids in facilitating bowel movements and making them more frequent. Constipation relief from Dulcolax Tablets typically occurs within 6 to 12 hours.

Dulcolax Suppositories

Dulcolax Suppositories are designed for rectal administration. They are small, solid medication forms that are inserted into the rectum. The suppository dissolves as soon as inserted, releasing the active ingredient directly into the rectum.

Dulcolax Suppositories, like tablets, stimulate the bowel muscles, but the rectal tissue is directly contacted, which can speed up the onset of action. Constipation relief usually begins to occur within 15 to 60 minutes after taking them.

The choice between Dulcolax Stool softener, tablets, and suppositories may depend on individual preferences, doctor’s recommendation, ease of administration, and desired onset time.

Get relief from occasional constipation with Dulcolox Stool Softener

FAQs About Dulcolax Stool Softener

Is Dulcolax over the counter?

Yes, Dulcolax is a non-prescription medicine available over the counter.

Is Dulcolax a stool softener or a laxative?

It works as a stimulant-free laxative  It provides relief from occasional constipation by softening the stool.

How long after the expiration date is Dulcolax effective?

Do not use it after the expiration date as it is ineffective after the expiration date.

Does Dulcolax cause gas?

Yes, Dulcolax can cause gas, dizziness, bloating, mild diarrhea, and rectal irritation.

How many stool softeners should I take?

You can take one or two tablets of Dulcolax daily. Do not take other than the recommended dose.

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