The following excipients are unlikely to cause any problems but some people may prefer to avoid them.
People with some inherited conditions may need to avoid medicines containing lactose. These are rare and include galactose intolerance, total lactose deficiency or glucose–galactose malabsorption. The amount of lactose in tablets is very small, and it is unlikely to have an effect for people who are lactose intolerant.
Ethanol (the scientific name for alcohol) may be used to help a medicine dissolve to make a liquid medicine. Medicines for children do not contain ethanol. Adult medicines may contain it, but the amount is usually very small.
This is another form of alcohol, now rarely used. If your medicine contains it you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist before giving the medicine to any child under 5 years of age.
Some excipients, eg gelatin, are derived from animal products which vegetarians, vegans and people of particular faith may wish to avoid. Gelatin is sometimes used as the outer coating of capsules. Lactose is typically derived from animal milk and magnesium stearate is from vegetable sources.
Mannitol and sorbitol
These are artificial sweeteners used in sugar-free forms of medicines. Although these can cause soft or runny poos (diarrhoea), due to the small amount present in medicines, it is unlikely this will happen.