Medications to treat diarrhea in adults include over-the-counter remedies, such as loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate. People with an underlying health condition or infection may need prescription drugs like rifaximin.
Diarrhea is when stool contains
Diarrhea can be either acute or chronic. Acute diarrhea typically refers to passing at least three loose stools a day for up to 14 days. A doctor may describe diarrhea lasting between 2 and 4 weeks as persistent and cases lasting longer than 4 weeks as chronic diarrhea. In most cases, the condition resolves within a few days.
There are three types of infection that can cause diarrhea:
- viral infection, such as norovirus, rotavirus, or viral gastroenteritis
- bacterial infection, such as salmonella or campylobacter
- parasitic infection, such as giardiasis or cryptosporidiosis
Depending on the cause, different medications are available for diarrhea. Typically, treatment options involve regulating gastrointestinal movement and increasing fluid absorption in the intestines.
In this article, we will discuss medications that can help relieve diarrhea.
OTC medications are available for acute diarrhea. However, if symptoms persist, a person may require different treatment to target whatever is causing it. Common medications for diarrhea include
Loperamide, which people commonly refer to by its brand name, Imodium, is an anti-diarrheal agent that treats diarrhea by
Potential side effects of loperamide can include:
- dry mouth
- passing wind
- stomach cramps
- ileus, a temporary lack of muscle contraction in the intestine
- difficulty emptying urine from the bladder
It is also worth noting that loperamide is not a controlled substance, and there is a risk of overdosage and severe adverse reactions. As such, the recommended usage for adults and those 13 years and older is an initial dose of 4 milligrams (mg) or 2 capsules, then 2 mg or 1 capsule after each loose stool. It is not advisable to exceed 16 mg or 8 capsules per day.
As the drug passes into the stomach, it
Bismuth subsalicylate may cause the following side effects:
As this drug contains salicylate, it is not advisable for people with allergies, such as aspirin, to use bismuth salicylate. Additionally, this drug may interact with other medications. As such, it is advisable to consult a doctor before using it if a person takes any drugs for:
Prescription medication is generally more specific to the cause of diarrhea. These types of medication can include the following:
Eluxadoline, available under the brand name Viberzi, is
Rifaximin, which has the brand name Xifaxan, is a form of treatment for
Some people should avoid taking diarrhea medications. For example, OTC diarrhea medications can be dangerous for:
- young children
Additionally, people should
Individuals should always make sure any medication they take does not contain an ingredient that may cause an allergic reaction. If they are unsure, they can check with a doctor or pharmacist. Additionally, someone who is pregnant should check with a healthcare professional before taking new medication.
Diarrhea causes a risk of dehydration and, in long-term cases, malnutrition. The
Eat low fiber or bland foods
To make the stool less runny, a person may consider consuming low-fiber foods or following the BRAT diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. The
Washing hands regularly and thoroughly is
In areas where food and water are more likely to contain harmful pathogens, it is better to avoid tap water and drink water from bottles instead. Before buying bottled water, people should check the seal to ensure it is still intact. It may also be advisable to avoid raw vegetables and fruits and stick to well-cooked meals that have not been sitting on a buffet.
To prevent dehydration from diarrhea, people can use oral rehydration therapy or electrolyte drinks as soon as they notice symptoms.
Below are some commonly asked questions about diarrhea medicine.
What is the best remedy for diarrhea?
Home remedies for diarrhea include drinking plenty of water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes. Eating bland or low-fiber foods may also be useful for people with diarrhea symptoms.
What is the first drug choice for diarrhea?
For acute diarrhea, over-the-counter medications such as loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate tend to be the first drug choice.
In other instances, prescription medications such as alosetron, eluxadoline, and rifaximin may be recommended.
Diarrhea typically refers to when people pass watery stool at least three times a day. There are different possible causes of diarrhea, and the condition can be acute or chronic, depending on how long it persists. Without treatment, the condition can result in severe complications.
As such, it is advisable to use medications to help relieve symptoms of diarrhea. Both OTC and prescription options are available, which aim to slow the passage of contents through the intestines and increase the absorption of fluids. In many cases, diarrhea resolves within a few days. However, if symptoms persist for more than 2 days, it is advisable to contact a doctor.