Loperamide is a commonly prescribed treatment for acute diarrhoea. Manufactured and marketed by several different companies, this medicine is a generic version of the very successfully Imodium. Available in hard capsule form, Loperamide treatment is usually limited to the course of a single day. This medicine contains the same active ingredient as Imodium meaning that it also relies on the same mechanism of action, namely the increase in water absorption and decrease in the speed and frequency of bowel movements.

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Diarrhoea causes and dangers

Diarrhoea is a relatively common condition, in terms that it affects a majority of people at least once over the course of their lives. The widely-known symptoms include frequent defecation with strong urgency, loose and watery stools, stomach discomfort and loss of appetite. While not serious in itself, more severe cases of diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, causing the need for immediate medical attention in order to prevent harm to the organism.

Acute diarrhoea can be caused by multiple different factors such as parasites, viruses, bacteria, consumption of large amounts of alcohol, food poisoning, allergy and even intense stress. Some people may get affected immediately after or over the course of antibiotic treatment, while in others, it can be an early sign of appendicitis. If the latter is the case the symptoms will be followed by severe abdominal pain.

How does Loperamide help with diarrhoea and dehydration?

In most cases, the symptoms of diarrhoea usually pass within a couple of days, even without any special treatment, aside from the usual advices – get rest and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

But, in those more severe cases, medication might be necessary in order to avert significant loss of fluids. Loperamide (generic Imodium) is a very successful and efficient treatment when it comes to this. It relies on the active ingredient of the same name in order to affect specialized nerve receptors located within the gut and thus reduce their sensitivity to the signals that cause muscular contractions in the intestine. As a result, the food will move more slowly due to decreased frequency of bowel movements. At the same time, this medicine also contributes to more effective absorption of water within the gastrointestinal tract, making stools harder.

How to use Loperamide?

This medicine is very simple to use. While it is important to precisely follow the instructions provided by your doctor and in the official patient information leaflet which is issued within every pack of the medicine, there is little opportunity to go wrong here.

The usual guidelines specify the usual dose at two capsules taken initially, followed by one capsule after each diarrhoeic episode. However, you should never exceed the maximum daily dosage of six capsules. In addition, this treatment shouldn’t be used for more than a day – if the symptoms persist and there is noticeable improvement in your condition, it’s best to consult with a doctor regarding further steps that should be taken.

Loperamide capsules are to be taken whole with a glass of water. In addition to this treatment, one should also take care to stay hydrated as much as possible, independent of the medicine – further info on how to do that can also be found in the leaflet.

If you miss a dose, do not double the next one, nor extend your treatment period. Just continue as usual.

What are Loperamide side effects?

As with most medicines available today, certain side effects are possible, although not everybody will experience them. The most dangerous complication one should be aware of is an allergic reaction. The usual symptoms include swelling of the face, tongue or lips, difficulties breathing or swallowing, severe skin rash or blistering, stomach pains or swelling and presence of blood in the stool. If you notice any of those, it is vital that you consult with your doctor immediately.

Other side effects of Loperamide include:

  • General malaise
  • Tiredness
  • Flatulence
  • Indigestion
  • Drowsiness
  • Urinary retention
  • Rash, itching and skin lesions
  • Megacolon
  • Dryness of the mouth

However, it is important to note that while these complications have been reported, it is not yet clear whether they are related to Loperamide use or the underlying symptom that caused diarrhoea at the first place.

Another documented side effect is a number of serious cardiac reactions – however, this adverse reaction has been documented only in patients who have exceeded the maximum daily dose by a significant amount.

Loperamide interactions

There are some cases in which the treatment you might already be taking can adversely interact with Loperamide. If there is a possibility of this, the doctor might decide to recommend you a different treatment. More specifically, one should not use Loperamide if one is currently taking:

  • Cotrimoxazole
  • Quinidine
  • Ritonavir
  • Desmopressin

Loperamide contraindications

There are some situations when your doctor might advise against using Loperamide. This might be the case if you have one of the following pre-existing health conditions:

  • Susceptibility to blockages in the colon
  • Widening of the bowel
  • Constipation
  • Bloated or swollen stomach
  • Inflammation of the bowel
  • Diverticulosis
  • Colitis
  • Bacterial enterocolitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Dysentery
  • IBS
  • AIDS
  • Liver disease

At the same time, it’s important to note that this medicine contains lactose, so you shouldn’t be using it if you are lactose-intolerant. Similarly, women who are pregnant or are trying to conceive should avoid Loperamide.

As dizziness and drowsiness have been documented in some users of this medicine, it is not advisable to drive or operate heavy machinery if you notice these side effects. Similarly, use of alcohol alongside this medicine is not recommended – but more so because alcohol is one of the common causes of diarrhoea so it should be avoided if you have been affected.

Can I buy generic Imodium without prescription?

Yes, it is possible to buy this medicine over-the-counter, but usually, your doctor will require you to answer a couple of questions in order to decide whether you are suitable for this treatment. While this might be avoidable when waiting in line at the pharmacy to buy the medicine, if you opt for an online clinic, you should definitely take advantage of the consultation service included in the price of the medicine in order to get reliable and precise information from the doctor regarding the treatment and its suitability for your specific case.