Medicines & Supplements A to Z > Sorbitol


Last updated on 04/08/2021.

Overview   |   Dosage   |    Side Effects   |   Precautions  |   Tips  |   Where To Buy  



BRAND NAME(S) IN HONG KONG: Osmofundin 甘露醇

DRUG CLASS: Laxatives

SUB CLASS: Osmotic laxatives

USED FOR: Constipation, bladder irrigation


What is Sorbitol for?

Sorbitol is a natural humectant (moisturizing agent) and sweetener commonly found in food, beverages and medications. Sorbitol is also used as a laxative to treat constipation. It works by drawing water from the gut and softening stools, therefore stimulating bowel movement and relieving constipation. Sorbitol is also used as an irrigation solution to irrigate the bladder and urinary tracts, or as an intravenous solution with mannitol to maintain osmotic pressure in the body.

How to use it?

Sorbitol solution may be taken orally or inserted as an enema rectally to stimulate bowel movement. Enema works directly in the rectum and is more effective than oral solution. 

If you use an oral solution, take 2 to 3 tablespoons by mouth whenever necessary. It normally takes 12 to 72 hours for Sorbitol to work when taken orally.

If you use the enema, shake well before opening the protective shield. Lie down and squeeze the enema content into your rectum. Remain lying for a couple of minutes before sitting or standing. You may feel the urge to go to the toilet in 15-60 minutes. Do not eat, chew or swallow the enema or use it in any other way. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after using enema.

For bladder irrigation, the procedure will be performed in a medical setting by your doctor. A catheter will be inserted through the urinary tract into the bladder, and the bladder will be flushed with Sorbitol solution to clean out the inside.

What are the side effects of Sorbitol?

Common side effects of Sorbitol include dehydration, burning sensation or discomfort in anus or rectum.

Who should not take Sorbitol?

People allergic to Sorbitol or any component of the formulation

Pharmacist Tips:

– Drink more water, increase fiber intake and exercise regularly to ensure soft bowel movement and reduce straining.
– If you find dark-colour blood in your stool, along with abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhoea, please seek medical attention immediately.
– Report to your doctor or pharmacist if constipation does not resolve after using this medicine.

Common dosing schedule:
Use Sorbitol when required. Repeat if necessary.

This schedule is for reference only, adjustments may be made according to individual needs.

Some common medications Sorbitol may interact with:
– Diuretics, e.g. Furosemide, Hydrochlorothiazide
– Other laxatives, e.g. Senna, Bisacodyl

Please notify your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking the above medication, dosage adjustments might be needed.

Where to buy Sorbitol in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong, Sorbitol is a prescription only medicine, and requires a prescription from a doctor to be purchased in a pharmacy. It can also be obtained from doctors. To find a pharmacy near you, refer to the list of pharmacies (“Authorized Sellers of Poisons”) from the Hong Kong Department of Health.

For more information about drug names and ingredients, you can visit Hong Kong’s Drug Office at

Need more information?

For detailed information about the use of Sorbitol in children, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and for questions about drug interactions, please check with your pharmacist or doctor.

For more information about drug names and ingredients, you can visit Hong Kong’s Drug Office at