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Supportive Care

Brand names:

Senexon®, Senna Lax®, SennaCon®, Senokot®

Other names:


Often used for:

treating constipation

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About Senna

Senna is a laxative used to treat occasional constipation and hard stools. It may also be used to empty bowels before surgery or other medical procedures. It works by increasing the activity of the intestines to cause bowel movements. This medicine usually causes a bowel movement within 6-12 hours.

Senna is available over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription. Some products may use a combination of senna and docusate.

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May be taken as a liquid by mouth

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May be taken as a tablet or chewable tablet by mouth

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Possible Side Effects

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Not all patients who take senna will experience these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Tips for Families

Be sure to discuss these and other recommendations with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Senna may be used on an as-needed basis.
  • This medicine should not be used for more than 1 week unless directed by a healthcare provider.
  • Do not take other laxatives without talking to a doctor or pharmacist.
  • Do not take more often or in greater amounts than recommended.
  • Patients should not take other medicines within 2 hours before or after taking senna, unless recommended by a doctor or pharmacist.

Senna at home:

  • Take medicine at bedtime if taking once per day.
  • For liquid senna, shake well, and use the measuring device that comes with the medicine.
  • Non-chewable tablets should be swallowed whole. Do not crush or chew before swallowing. Follow with a glass of water.
  • Chewable tablets should be chewed completely before swallowing.
  • Give a missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time.
  • Store at room temperature.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.
  • Follow instructions for disposal.