Antidiarrheal agents

In irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients with diarrhea, antidiarrheal agents such as loperamide and diphenoxylate can be effective in decreasing bowel movement frequency, improving stool form by enhancing intestinal water and ion absorption, and increasing anal sphincter tone at rest. These physiologic actions seem to explain the improvement in diarrhea, urgency, and fecal soiling observed in patients with IBS.

Loperamide (e.g., Imodium, Pepto Diarrhea Control) is available over-the-counter (OTC). Diphenoxylate (e.g., Lomotil, Lomocot) is available by prescription. Diphenoxylate is potentially addictive.

These medications do not typically relieve abdominal pain and may cause constipation.

Be sure to take any medication as directed. Always tell your health care professionals about all the medicines you are taking, including OTC and prescription medicines.

Learn more about long-term use of loperamide

Last modified on October 22, 2014 at 01:51:25 PM

Adapted from IFFGD Publication: Current Pharmacologic Treatments of Irritable Bowel Syndrome by Anthony J. Lembo, MD, Instructor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Division of Gastroenterology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA.

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IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization. Our mission is to inform, assist, and support people affected by gastrointestinal disorders.

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