Treatment > Medications

Imodium - The diarrhea remedy

Dr. med. Andre Sommer

Dr. med. Andre Sommer

Accompanied by unpleasant symptoms such as abdominal cramps, circulatory problems and flatulence, diarrhea throws the body off track. Our fluid and energy balance gets out of whack when we have diarrhea. With its watery consistency, increased emptying of the stool weakens the body within a few hours. In addition to viruses and bacteria, hormonal disorders, stress and chronic illnesses can cause diarrhea. The latter includes irritable bowel syndrome, which affects our well-being by constantly shifting the body between constipation and diarrhea. When treating diarrhea Imodium has been used by experts for several decades.

Overview

There is now a whole range of anti-diarrhea products with the trade name Imodium (Active ingredient: Loperamide). Patients aged 12 years and over can get medications with loperamide hydrochloride without a prescription in the pharmacy. Nevertheless, persistent or recurring diarrhea always calls for a doctor's consultation. Before using an anti-diarrhea agent, you should also clarify what needs to be taken into account when taking it and for whom the anti-diarrheal medication has an adequate effect.

Who is Imodium intended for?

No causal therapy is available for some diarrheal diseases. In this case, Imodium is suitable for the relief of acute symptoms. Children under the age of 12 and pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take the medication. The same applies to patients with:

  • Chronic or acute inflammation of the colon that occurs after antibiotics (pseudomembranous colitis)
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Bowel obstruction or slow bowel movement
  • Acute flare-ups of inflammatory colon inflammation with limitation to the mucous membrane (ulcerative colitis)
  • Bacterial bowel inflammation
  • Allergies to ingredients

Treatments lasting several days require medical approval and close monitoring of the course. If you have known medical conditions or are taking other medications at the same time, patients should discuss their intake with their doctor in advance. This applies, for example, to AIDS and liver patients.

What preparations are there?

There are three different preparations with the trade name Imodium on the market for the symptomatic treatment of acute diarrhea. All of them use loperamide hydrochloride as an active ingredient. Imodium uses the best-selling ingredient for diarrhea. The other ingredients distinguish the three preparations from each other.

  • Imodium acute (Price for 12 pieces: approx. € 5) is a hard capsule preparation with lactose monohydrate, which has been popular on the German market for decades.
  • Imodium acute lingual (Price for 12 pieces: approx. 6 €) is a lactose and gluten-free orodispersible tablet with aspartame and levomenthol. In the case of acute diarrhea, these tablets with a pleasant mint taste promise simple immediate help on the go.
  • Imodium acute duo (Price for 12 pieces: approx. € 5) combines loperamide hydrochloride with simeticon. The latter active ingredient breaks down the gas bubbles in the intestine, which are responsible for cramps and flatulence.
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What is the active ingredient loperamide for?

There are various active substances for treating diarrhea. Imodium consciously opts for loperamide, which can have an active effect for up to 40 hours 1-3 hours after ingestion.

Compared to other drugs, meaningful studies on the effectiveness of loperamide are limited. Nevertheless, a randomized double-blind study speaks for the drug. The recommendation relates to the short-term treatment of acute diarrhea with a viral origin. Feverish or bloody diarrhea are not among the areas of application of loperamide.

Firming of the stool is the main goal when administering the active ingredient. The intestine works excessively quickly with diarrhea. This acceleration puts the intestinal wall under time pressure when it comes to the absorption of liquid and electrolytes from the chyme. Loperamide inhibits bowel movement. The active ingredient achieves this effect through binding to receptor cells of the smooth intestinal muscles. This reduces the speed at which the food is transported, giving the intestine more time to absorb water and electrolytes.

How much Imodium can you take?

The package insert of the respective preparation tells you how much Imodium you can take per day. As an example, we describe here how many Imodium Lingual tablets the manufacturer recommends.

The basic dose in adults is 2 tablets and is half for young people over the age of twelve. Each watery stool is followed by another tablet. The total dose accordingly depends on the age of the patient and the course of the disease. The recommendations described apply to all preparations. The maximum dosage is 6 tablets per day. A maximum of 4 tablets are indicated for adolescents.

Attention!

Do not take more than 6 tablets a day and be sure to consult a doctor if you have persistent diarrhea.

What is important when taking it?

How much Imodium a patient should take in a day is not only issue for proper intake. The timing is also important. Imodium is best taken by diarrhea patients up to three hours before the next meal. The calculation is based on the onset and period of the effect that loperamide has on the movement of the intestine. In this way, patients ensure that the next meal remains in the intestine for longer.

Pills are difficult to swallow without liquid. This applies to Imodium Duo as well as Imodium Acute. Patients should therefore take these two products along with enough liquid. Imodium Lingua has that name for a reason. Unlike the other preparations, the orodispersible tablet dissolves as soon as it is placed on the tongue.

Which Imodium Acute is best for treatment?

Imodium Acute and Imodium Lingua differ mainly in the dosage form. If you have no problems taking hard capsules, choose Imodium Acute. In many cases, children from the age of twelve prefer to take orodispersible tablets. In tablet form, Imodium Lingua also makes it easier to administer active ingredients when traveling. Thanks to the lactose-free composition in contrast to the classic form, this variant is also suitable for lactose-intolerant people. The opposite is the case with intolerance to aspartame and levomenthol.

Which Imodium helps best with irritable bowel syndrome and other chronic diseases depends on the personal course. Imodium Lingua allows finer doses and is therefore recommended in some guidelines. Compared to the other products, Imodium Acute Duo is a real superhero that combats any accompanying complaints in addition to the diarrhea. Those who experience no accompanying symptoms prefer to concentrate on the single active ingredient of the classic variant. As a result, the body is spared the double burden that occurs when combined active ingredients are taken.

Does Imodium have side effects?

The most common side effects for Imodium are:

  • Gastrointestinal complaints such as constipation, gas, pain, nausea and vomiting
  • Headache, dizziness and sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Rashes

Less often, patients reported taking a bloated stomach. In addition, hypersensitive reactions to shock, rigidity and loss of consciousness are rare side effects. In clinical trials, vegetative impairments such as impaired consciousness, increased muscle tension and impaired coordination affected at most one in 1,000 users. In the same ratio, intestinal obstructions and enlargements of the colon occurred. Finally, there are blistering diseases of the skin, edema and urinary retention.

All mentioned side effects apply to both Imodium Lingua and Imodium Acute. In the package insert for the third preparation, even more side effects are listed due to the additive simeticon. These include disorders of taste, weakness and skin problems. Allergic side effects such as shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing or unexplained swelling require immediate clarification by a doctor.

Bolin, TD .: Use of oral sodium cromoglycate in persistent diarrhoea. In: Gut 1980, pp. 21:848-850. Downloaded on 10.08.2018 from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/gut.21.10.848.

Blum A.L. (1979): Diätetische und medikamentöse Therapie der Darmerkrankungen. In: Schlegel B. (Hrsg.) Verhandlungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für innere Medizin. Verhandlungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für innere Medizin (Fünfundachtzigster Kongreß 1979), vol 85. J.F. Bergmann-Verlag 1979. Downloaded on 10.08.2018 from: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-85454-5_13

Meißner, W. & Pastrana,T.: Behandlung der Diarrhö mit Loperamid in der Palliativmedizin. Eine systematische Literaturübersicht. In: Springer Verlag (Hrsg): Der Schmerz. Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 182–189. Springer 2013. Retrieved from. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00482-013-1296-z (19.06.2018, 20:33).

Dr. med. Andre Sommer

Dr. med. Andre Sommer

I’m André, a medical doctor from Berlin. Together with a team of medical doctors, nutritionists and data scientists we empower people to understand digestive issues with our app Cara Care.

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