Main use Active ingredient Manufacturer
Constipation Senna Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare
How does it work?
Senokot tablets, max strength tablets and syrup all contain the active ingredient senna, which is a type of medicine called a stimulant laxative. It is used to treat constipation. (NB. Senna is also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine.).
Senna works by stimulating the nerve endings in the walls of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. This causes the muscles in the intestinal wall to contract more often and with increased force. When these muscles contract (a process known as peristalsis), this moves the contents of the intestine through the colon to the rectum so that the bowel can be emptied. This relieves constipation.
Senna contains sennosides which are activated by the natural bacteria that are found in the colon, so it does not start working until it reaches this part of the gut. As senna increases the activity of the muscle in the gut it can cause stomach cramps.
Senokot tablets and syrup start to work eight to twelve hours after you take them. The recommended dose should be taken at night to produce relief from constipation the following morning.
What is it used for?
You should not take this medicine if you have severe abdominal pain together with feeling sick and vomiting, as this could indicate that you have a more serious condition that needs investigating. Consult your doctor instead.
You should make sure that you drink plenty of fluids while taking this medicine, as this will also help the constipation.
If you don't have a bowel movement after three days of taking this medicine you should consult your doctor. If you find you need to use a laxative every day you should consult your doctor so that the cause of the constipation can be investigated. Laxatives should not be used on a continuous basis for longer than seven days without consulting your doctor.
Prolonged, excessive use of laxatives can lead to chronic diarrhoea, low potassium levels in the blood (hypokalaemia) and an imbalance in the amount of fluid and salts (electrolytes) in your body, particularly if you are also taking diuretic or steroid medicines. This can cause kidney problems, amongst others. Prolonged, excessive use may also make the constipation worse in the long-term, as the gut can become reliant on the laxative.
Use with caution in
People who have recently had surgery on the bowel.
Not to be used in
People with a blockage in the gut (intestinal obstruction).
People with a colostomy or ileostomy.
People with any bleeding from the stomach or intestine.
Senokot tablets are not recommended for children under six years of age. Senokot syrup should not be used in children under two years of age, unless on the advice of a doctor. (NB. When treating constipation in children older than this you should always seek the advice of a doctor first.)
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
This medicine is not known to be harmful if taken during pregnancy. However, as with all medicines, you should seek medical advice from your doctor before taking this medicine if you are pregnant, particularly if you are in your first trimester. Other methods of relieving constipation may be more suitable for you.
There are no known harmful effects when this medicine is used by breastfeeding mothers.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
Stomach pain and cramps.
Excessive use can cause diarrhoea and low levels of potassium in the blood (see warning above). You should not exceed the recommended dose.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.
For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
How can this medicine affect other medicines?
This medicine is not known to affect other medicines. However, if you are already taking any other medicines, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, you should ask your pharmacist for advice before taking this one as well.
Other medicines containing the same active ingredient
Senna tablets and syrup are also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine.