Emollients—also known as stool softeners—include the calcium,potassium, and sodium salts of docusate.
Administered orally, emollients are absorbed and excreted through bile in stool.
Emollients soften stool and make bowel movements easier by emulsifying the fat and water components of stool in the small and large intestines. This detergent action allows water and fats to penetrate stool, making it softer and easier to eliminate.
Emollients also stimulate electrolyte and fluid secretion from in-testinal mucosal cells.
Emollients are the drugs of choice for softening stools in patients who should avoid straining during a bowel movement, including those with:
· recent MI or surgery
· disease of the anus or rectum
· increased intracranial pressure (ICP)
Taking oral doses of mineral oil with oral emollients increases the systemic absorption of mineral oil and may result in tissue de-posits of the oil.
Because emollients may enhance the ab-sorption of many oral drugs, drugs with low margins of safety (narrow therapeu-tic index) should be administered cau-tiously with emollients. (See Adverse re-actions to emollient laxatives.)