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Lactulose is used to treat constipation, abnormal brain function due to liver failure (hepatic encephalopathy and coma).

How it works

Lactulose is a synthetic sugar, belongs to class of medications called hyperosmotic laxative. Lactulose draws water in colon, which increases pressure in the colon to then stimulate bowel movements and helps in evacuation of bowel. It also draws ammonia from the blood into the colon where it is removed from the body, thereby reducing the amount of ammonia in the blood of patients with liver disease.

Common side effects

Abdominal pain, Diarrhoea, Nausea, Stomach pain, Stomach cramp, Vomiting


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Expert advice

Do not take lactulose oral solution and consult your doctor:
  • If you are allergic to lactulose or any other ingredient of solution.
  • If you have galactosemia (inability to metabolize sugar glucose properly).
  • If you have diabetes, unexplained stomachache, blockage in bowel or have risk of digestive perforation.
  • If you have intolerance to certain sugars (lactose, galactose, or fructose).
  • Stop using lactulose and call your doctor at once if you have severe or ongoing diarrhea.
  • Do not use the solution  if it becomes very dark, or if it gets thicker or thinner in texture.
  • If you are using the lactulose powder , it should be mixed with at least 4 ounces of water. You may also use fruit juice or milk to make the medication taste better.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is lactulose a stool softener, stimulant laxative?
Lactulose is stool softener, Lactulose is not a stimulant laxative it is a hyperosmotic laxative.
Q. Can I take lactulose for constipation?
 It can be taken for constipation.

Q. Is lactulose safe for diabetics?
In diabetic patients lactulose may increase the blood sugar, make you feel confused, drowsy, or thirsty. Always consult your doctor before use.
Q. Does lactulose increase blood sugar?
In diabetic patients lactulose may increase the blood sugar, make you feel confused, drowsy, or thirsty. Always consult your doctor before use.
Q. Does lactulose contain sugar?
Lactulose is a non-digestible sugar.

Q. Is lactulose over the counter?
Lactulose is available over the counter.
Q. Is lactulose fattening (makes you fat), cause wind (gas), cause weight loss and bloating?
Lactulose does not cause weight gain or weight loss. Lactulose can cause bloating and wind (gas).
Q. Is lactulose gluten free?
Lactulose is gluten free. However, please refer to package insert of the prescribed brand before use.
Q. How long can I take lactulose?
Please consult your doctor for dose and duration required.
Q. Can I take lactulose with antibiotics, omeprazole, Senokot, Fybogel, warfarin, iron tablets, senna, paracetamol, Gaviscon?
Lactulose may interact with antibiotics, omeprazole, and Gaviscon/calcium carbonate. Senokot/senna, Fybogel/ispaghula when taken with lactulose may result in diarrhea. No interactions have been observed when lactulose is taken with warfarin, iron tablets, and paracetamol. 
Q. Does lactulose contain lactose?
Lactulose contains lactose, galactose, and small amounts of fructose. Do not take lactulose if you have intolerance to these sugars.

Content on this page was last updated on 14 October, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)