(6) Phenolphthalein (Alophen, Evac-U-Gen, Ex-Lax, Feen-A-Mint).
Phenolphthalein is available in the form of chewing gum, tablets, and chewable tablets.
Patients taking the gum should be told to chew the gum well and not to swallow it.
Patients receiving this product should be told that phenolphthalein may discolor their
(7) Senna (Black Draught, Fletcher's Castoria). Senna is available in a
variety of forms. Patients taking this product should be told that it may discolor their
d. Emollient Cathartics. Skin rashes, gastric cramping, and irritated throats
(with liquid preparations) are sometimes associated with emollient agents. In general,
emollients are used to soften hard, dry stools in order to ease defecation. Results are
not immediately obtained with emollient cathartics. Instead, it takes approximately one
to three days for this type of cathartic to produce results after the first dose is taken.
Patients taking emollient cathartics should be cautioned not to take mineral oil or other
laxatives since they might be absorbed to a greater degree. Since some emollient
products have a rather bitter taste, the patient can take the preparations with milk or fruit
juice to mask the unpleasant taste. Emollient cathartics will not produce the cathartic
habit, but they will increase absorption through the lipid membrane. Consequently, they
are not prescribed for extended periods.
(1) Docusate calcium (Surfak). Docusate calcium is available in 50 and
240 milligram tablets. The usual adult dose of the product is one (240 milligram) tablet
a day taken with a full glass of water. Ensure that you tell the patient to drink adequate
fluids while taking the medication, since this will enhance the stool softening effect of
the medication. Docusate is available in several salts (calcium, potassium, and sodium)
and in several dosage forms. Docusate sodium is a product available under the trade
name of Colace.
(2) Poloxamer 188 (Alxin, Magcyl). This product is available in 240 and
250 milligram capsules. The usual adult dose of Poloxamer 188 is one capsule one to
three times a day with a glass of water.
e. Hyperosmotic Cathartics. Hyperosmotic cathartics are divided into two
categories, lactulose and saline cathartics. Because saline cathartics tend to produce
nonabsorbable complexes with tetracyclines, patients taking saline cathartics should be
cautioned not to take them within one to three hours after taking tetracycline. Saline
cathartics produce rapid results--defecation is achieved within two to eight hours after
taking the product. Therefore, the person should not take a saline cathartic late at night
or immediately before going to bed. Since some saline cathartics contain sugar and/or
sodium, diabetics and persons who must reduce their intake of sodium should check
each product for its composition. Saline cathartics should not be given to children six
years of age and under.