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Glycerol is used in the treatment of dry coughs and sore throats, constipation or raised pressure in brain cavity and management of dry, flaky or itchy skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis. It is also used as an adjunct in treating glaucoma (increased pressure inside the eye that causes visual problems).

How it works

Glycerol belongs to the class of medications called laxatives and ophthalmic osmotics. It acts by absorbing water into the gut, relaxing the stools and relieving constipation. In the management of glaucoma it works by removing excess of water thereby controlling pressure in the eye.

Common side effects

Vomiting, Nausea, Excessive thirst, Abdominal bloating, Abdominal cramp, Diarrhoea, Dizziness, Headache, Injection site inflammation, Injection site pain, Pain, Irritation


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Expert advice

  • Do not start or continue the glycerol syrup or oral solution and consult your doctor if you have diabetes or intolerance to sugars as this medicine contains glucose and sucrose.
  • Exercise caution while using glycerol suppositories if you have appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix) or rectal bleeding.
  • Do not give cough relief oral solution to children under 1 year but cough syrup containing glycerol is recommended in children 3 months to 1 year.
  • Avoid contact with the eyes while using glycerol cream as it may cause irritation to the epithelial cells of the cornea.
  • Do not take if patient is allergic to glycerol or any of its ingredients.
  • Do not given to patient with kidney diseases.
  • Do not given to pregnant women should not use glycerol suppositories in the first three months of pregnancy.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is glycerol an alcohol, carbohydrate, sugar, vegan, lipid, or amino acid?
Glycerol can be classified as an alcohol, carbohydrate, sugar, or vegan but it does not contain lipid, or amino acid. 

Q. Is glycerol and glycerin the same?
Glycerol is the pure chemical product and its commercial product is called glycerin. Glycerin is needed to produce glycerol.

Q. Is glycerol polar, conduct electricity, soluble in water or oil, and has hydrogen bonding?
Glycerol is polar, conducts electricity, soluble in water and has hydrogen bonding.

Q. Does glycerol contain nitrogen?
No, glycerol does not contain nitrogen.

Q. Does glycerol evaporate and freeze?
Glycerol does not evaporate but it can freeze below 18°C.

Q. Can you take glycerol with paracetamol?
Yes, you can take glycerol with paracetamol.

Content on this page was last updated on 04 October, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)