Treatment Basics

Treatment Medications

The two medicines used most often to treat HE are lactulose, a synthetic or man-made sugar, and certain antibiotics. Sometimes lactulose and antibiotics are used together.

  • Lactulose:
    • Works by drawing water from your body into your colon, which softens stools and causes you to have more bowel movements. This helps to lessen the absorption of toxins in your intestines by flushing toxins out of your system.
    • Reduces the amount of ammonia in your blood by drawing the ammonia into the colon where it is removed from the body.
    • Helps during HE recurrences and also makes them less likely to occur.
  • Antibiotics:
    • Work by stopping the growth of certain bacteria that create toxins from your digested food. By reducing these bacteria, antibiotics reduce the amount of toxins produced in your body.
    • Help to prevent HE recurrences and reduce the chance of being hospitalized due to HE.
    • A few different antibiotics are used to treat HE. Your healthcare provider will choose the one that’s best for you.