Anti-Diarrhea (Antidiarrheal Medicine)

Do you need anti-diarrhea medicine?

Anti-diarrhea medicine, which works to slow down the gut's movement, is commonly prescribed for individuals suffering from sudden diarrhea. The medicine is able to make stools less watery by cutting the frequency of bowel movements.

Ileostomy and inflammatory bowel disease patients are among the other groups which might be prescribed anti-diarrhea medicine, as well as those suffering from antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

It should be noted that anti-diarrhea medicine such as loperamide treats the symptoms, rather than the cause, of diarrhea. Patients wishing to address the cause of their diarrhea symptoms, such as an infection, should consult their doctor.

Usage guidelines

Anti-diarrhea medicine is seldom administered to children under the age of six without direction from a doctor. It is vital to read all the instructions accompanying over the counter anti-diarrhea products before taking them, including any accompanying prescription labels. Medicine is typically taken by mouth after every loose stool and a doctor can recommend dosage which is specific to the condition of the patient.

For adults self-treating through over the counter products, 8mg over the course of 24 hours is accepted as a dosage limit, while under doctor's guidance, dosage does not exceed 16mg over 24 hours in normal circumstances. For children, the dosage varies according to age and weight.

Types of anti-diarrhea (medicine)

The following medicines, listed in alphabetic order with their generic drug name in brackets, can be prescribed for diarrhea in the US:

  • Acidophilus (lactobacillus acidophilus)
  • Anti-Diarrheal (loperamide)
  • Bacid (LAC) (lactobacillus acidophilus)
  • BD Lactinex (lactobacillus acidophilus/lactobacillus bulgaricus)
  • Bismarex (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Bismatrol (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Bismatrol Maximum Strength (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Culturelle Digestive Health (lactobacillus rhamnosus gg)
  • Culturelle Health and Wellness (lactobacillus rhamnosus gg)
  • Diamode (loperamide)
  • Di-Gon II (attapulgite)
  • Diarrest (attapulgite)
  • Flora-Q (lactobacillus acidophilus)
  • Florajen (lactobacillus acidophilus)
  • Floranex (lactobacillus acidophilus/lactobacillus bulgaricus)
  • Florastor (saccharomyces boulardii lyo)
  • Florastor Kids (saccharomyces boulardii lyo)
  • Fulyzaq (crofelemer)
  • Imodium (loperamide)
  • Imodium A-D (loperamide)
  • Imodium Multi-Symptom Relief (loperamide/simethicone)
  • Imotil (loperamide)
  • Ka-Pec (attapulgite)
  • Kao-Paverin (loperamide)
  • Kaopectate (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Kao-Tin Advanced Formula (attapulgite)
  • Kapectolin (kaolin/pectin)
  • Kapectolin (New Formula) (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Kola-Pectin DS (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Lomocot (atropine/diphenoxylate)
  • Lomotil (atropine/diphenoxylate)
  • Lonox (atropine/diphenoxylate)
  • Maalox Total Relief (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Motofen (atropine/difenoxin)
  • Mytesi (crofelemer)
  • Novaflor (lactobacillus acidophilus)
  • Peptic Relief (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Pink Bismuth (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Risa-Bid (lactobacillus acidophilus)
  • Superdophilus (lactobacillus acidophilus)
  • Up and Up Anti-Diarrheal Solution (loperamide)

Form of medicine

Chewable tablets are a popular form of anti-diarrhea medicine. These should be taken on an empty stomach, and chewed entirely before they are swallowed. Rapidly dissolving tablets are also common and should be placed on the tongue before being swallowed with saliva. Care must be taken to ensure that hands are dry before removing a tablet from the packet and the tablet should only be removed immediately prior to taking.

Warnings and side effects

In some cases, anti-diarrhea medicine such as loperamide can trigger allergic reactions through its inactive ingredients, so it is important to notify your doctor or pharmacist of any allergies. Certain medical conditions can prohibit the use of anti-diarrhea medicine, such as bowel obstruction and stomach pain which was present before diarrhea.

Patients suffering from clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea as a result of a severe intestinal condition are also typically warned against taking anti-diarrhea medicine, depending on their symptoms following the end of an antibiotics course.

While serious allergic reactions to anti-diarrhea medicine are considered rare, drowsiness, tiredness and dizziness are side effects to watch out for. Serious side effects for which patients should seek immediate medical help include stomach pain, fast or irregular heartbeat, severe constipation or vomiting, and fainting.

Related guidance

While taking anti-diarrhea medicine, an increase in fluid intake is recommended, so that electrolytes can replace the body water which is lost to dehydration. Depending on the cause of diarrhea, a doctor might also advise that a bland diet is adhered to, in order to reduce stomach irritation.

Conclusion of medication

If, after two days of treatment, diarrhea has not subsided or the condition has worsened, medical attention should be sought immediately. After 10 days of treatment, if diarrhea has not subsided completely, it is recommended that a doctor is notified.

Last Reviewed:
June 14, 2017
Last Updated:
October 10, 2017
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