Skip to Content

Sorbitol

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Aug 10, 2020.

Pronunciation

(SOR bi tole)

Dosage Forms

Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling. [DSC] = Discontinued product

Solution, Irrigation:

Generic: 3% (3000 mL); 3.3% (2000 mL, 4000 mL)

Solution, Oral:

Generic: 70% (30 mL [DSC], 473 mL, 474 mL [DSC], 480 mL, 3840 mL)

Solution, Rectal:

Generic: 70% (473 mL)

Pharmacologic Category

  • Genitourinary Irrigant
  • Laxative, Osmotic

Pharmacology

A polyalcoholic sugar with osmotic cathartic actions

Absorption

Oral, rectal: Poor

Metabolism

Primarily hepatic to fructose

Onset of Action

Rectal: 0.25-1 hour

Use: Labeled Indications

Genitourinary irrigant in transurethral prostatic resection or other transurethral resection or other transurethral surgical procedures; diuretic; humectant; sweetening agent; hyperosmotic laxative; facilitate the passage of sodium polystyrene sulfonate through the intestinal tract

Contraindications

Anuria (for irrigation)

OTC labeling: When used for self-medication, do not use for longer than 7 days or when abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting is present.

Dosing: Adult

Hyperosmotic laxative (as single dose, at infrequent intervals):

Oral: 30 to 45 mL (as 70% solution)

Rectal enema: 120 mL as 25% to 30% solution

Adjunct to sodium polystyrene sulfonate: 15 mL as 70% solution orally until diarrhea occurs (10 to 20 mL/2 hours) or 20 to 100 mL as an oral vehicle for the sodium polystyrene sulfonate resin

Transurethral surgical procedures: Irrigation: Topical: 3% to 3.3% as transurethral surgical procedure irrigation

Dosing: Geriatric

Refer to adult dosing.

Dosing: Pediatric

Constipation:

Oral: 70% solution:

Manufacturer's labeling: Children ≥12 years and Adolescents: Usual dose: 30 to 45 mL once daily as needed; maximum dose: 60 mL/dose; higher daily doses (60 to 90 mL in divided doses) may be necessary in some patients. Note: Consult product-specific labeling for detailed information.

Alternate dosing: Limited data available: Infants, Children and Adolescents: 1 to 3 mL/kg/day in divided doses, once or twice daily (Wyllie 2011). Usual range in adolescents: 30 to 90 mL/day

Rectal enema: 25% to 30% solution:

Children 2 to <12 years: 30 to 60 mL once daily as needed

Children ≥12 years and Adolescents: 120 mL once daily as needed

Fecal disimpaction, slow disimpaction: Oral: 70% solution: Limited data available: Infants, Children, and Adolescents: 2 mL/kg twice daily for 7 days (Pashankar 2005; Wyllie 2011)

Toxic ingestion, adjunct with charcoal: Children and Adolescents: Oral: 35% solution: 4.3 mL/kg; Note: Current guidelines recommend limiting use to a single dose administered with the initial charcoal dose of 1 g/kg (AACT/EAPCCT 2004).

Storage

Irrigation solution: Avoid storage in temperatures >150°F; do not freeze.

Oral solution: Store at 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F); do not freeze; below 15°C (59°F) cloudiness and thickening may occur; warming will restore clarity and fluidity without affecting product quality.

Drug Interactions

Calcium Polystyrene Sulfonate: Sorbitol may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Calcium Polystyrene Sulfonate. More specifically, concomitant use of these agents may increase the risk for intestinal necrosis. Avoid combination

LamiVUDine: Sorbitol may decrease the serum concentration of LamiVUDine. Management: When possible, avoid chronic coadministration of sorbitol-containing solutions with lamivudine, but if this combination cannot be avoided, monitor patients more closely for possible therapeutic failure associated with decreased lamivudine exposure. Consider therapy modification

Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate: Sorbitol may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. More specifically, concomitant use of these agents may increase the risk for intestinal necrosis. Avoid combination

Adverse Reactions

Frequency not defined.

Cardiovascular: Edema

Endocrine & metabolic: Electrolyte depletion, hyperglycemia, hypovolemia, lactic acidosis

Gastrointestinal: Abdominal distress, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, xerostomia

Warnings/Precautions

Concerns related to adverse effects:

• Fluid/electrolyte imbalance: Large volumes may result in fluid overload and/or electrolyte changes.

Disease-related concerns:

• Cardiopulmonary disease: Use with caution in patients with severe cardiopulmonary disease.

• Renal impairment: Use with caution in patients with renal impairment.

• Unable to metabolize sorbitol: Use with caution in patients unable to metabolize sorbitol.

Monitoring Parameters

Monitor for fluid overload and/or electrolyte disturbances following large volumes; GI distress (bloating, flatulence)

Pregnancy Risk Factor

C

Pregnancy Considerations

Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted.

Patient Education

What is this drug used for?

Oral and rectal solution:

• It is used to treat constipation.

Irrigation solution:

• It is used to rinse the bladder.

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

• Heartburn

• Stomach pain

• Stomach cramps

• Passing gas

• Diarrhea

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Rectal irritation

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

• Fluid and electrolyte problems like mood changes, confusion, muscle pain or weakness, abnormal heartbeat, severe dizziness, passing out, fast heartbeat, increased thirst, seizures, loss of strength and energy, lack of appetite, unable to pass urine or change in amount of urine passed, dry mouth, dry eyes, or nausea or vomiting

• High blood sugar like confusion, fatigue, increased thirst, increased hunger, passing a lot of urine, flushing, fast breathing, or breath that smells like fruit

• Shortness of breath

• Excessive weight gain

• Swelling of arms or legs

• Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a limited summary of general information about the medicine's uses from the patient education leaflet and is not intended to be comprehensive. This limited summary does NOT include all information available about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. For a more detailed summary of information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine, please speak with your healthcare provider and review the entire patient education leaflet.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.