Side effects of senna tablets

Senna tablets--a powerful laxative-- are also called Senokot. Its chemical name is Sennosides or Docusate.

It is an effective stool softener for short-term use as a treatment for occasional constipation and is sometimes used to empty the intestines prior to colon surgery or the visibility of the abdominal organs during an ultrasound. Senna tablets contain anthraquinone glycosides, chemicals that stimulate the colon. Senna tablets are available as an OTC (over the counter) drug.


Senna tablets increase the quantity of water and electrolytes in the intestines and stimulate the peristaltic action (wave like movement) of the bowels. This helps with the excretion of stool in the case of occasional constipation. Senna tablets take action about six to twelve hours after ingestion. It's best to know the side effects of Senna tablets before taking them.

Side Effects

Some common side effects that may be encountered when taking Senna tablets include: Irritation in your throat, a bitter taste in your mouth and nausea or mild abdominal pain, cramping or diarrhoea. Contact your doctor for advice if these symptoms persist.

Other Side Effects

These include skin rash, unusual tiredness or weakness, muscle cramps and weight loss. In cases when Senna tables are taken for a prolonged period of time, excessive diarrhoea may occur leading to loss of fluid and electrolyte imbalance (imbalance of the ionised salts, e.g., sodium and potassium in the body) and a dependency on the laxative for normal bowel function. Electrolyte imbalance may cause weakness and incoordination. Seek medical advice for any of these problems.

Additional Side Effects

These may include discolouration of urine with the colours ranging from alkaline urine appearing pink to red, red to violet or red to brown or acid urine looking yellow to brown. It's best not to have urinalysis test done while taking Senna tablets to avoid incorrect urinalysis test results. Other symptoms that may occur include confusion and irregular heartbeat and kidney problems.


Discuss your medical history with your doctor and be aware that Senna tablets should not be taken if you have any of the following medical conditions: Abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, intestinal obstruction or symptoms of appendicitis. Additional contraindications include undiagnosed abdominal pain, undiagnosed rectal bleeding or congestive heart failure. Do not give this medicine to children less than six years old.


Stop taking Senna tablets and consult your doctor for any of the following: Failure to have a bowl movement after using Senna tablets or the onset of rectal bleeding. If constipation has been going on for longer than a week or two, consult your doctor before taking Senna tablets. Do not take Senna tablets if you are pregnant, breast feeding or planning to get pregnant during the time you are taking it.