Lactulose (Generlac®, Cholac®, Constilac®, Enulose®, Acilac®) is a synthetic sugar used in the treatment of constipation and liver disease. It consists of the monosaccharides fructose and galactose. more...
In the treatment of chronic constipation, its metabolites draw water into the bowel, causing a cathartic effect through osmotic action.
In treating hepatic encephalopathy, lactulose helps "draw out" ammonia (NH3) from the body. The effectiveness of lactulose is somewhat controversial, and whether or not its effects are through ammonia is also controversial as well. Lactulose is metabolized in the colon by bacterial flora to short chain fatty acids, acidifying the colonic contents. This favors the formation of the nonabsorbable NH4+ from NH3, trapping NH3 in the colon and effectively reducing plasma NH3 concentrations.
Lactulose can be used to treat children that withhold their bowel movements out of fear. The usual dosage is 1 tsp. for each year of the child's age, up to 30 ml. Mixed with juice, it is undetectable and works within four hours.
Side effects include diarrhea and resultant dehydration and high sodium levels. In rare cases or with excess amounts can cause stomach pain, gas, vomiting, or diarrhea.
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