Gluten-free medicines for diarrhea, constipation and heartburn.

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If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you may be used to gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea , constipation , or heartburn . Gluten problems often go hand in hand with gastrointestinal problems.

So where can you turn to relieve symptoms from time to time? It turns out that there are several gluten-free antidiarrheals, gluten-free laxatives, and gluten-free antacids that could possibly help.

Unfortunately, you can't just walk into a pharmacy and buy just any brand. Many of the best-known medications for constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn are not considered gluten-free. =

But there are good gluten-free alternatives, mostly brand name, but also some well-known drugs, available in stores in the United States. Here's a guide to gluten-free over-the-counter medications for common digestive problems.

Gluten-free diarrhea medications

Diarrhea can be the most common symptom of celiac disease , as well as a common symptom of gluten sensitivity. Many people get diarrhea if they eat gluten and may want to try diarrhea medications to see if they help relieve their symptoms.

It's also possible that your diarrhea could be caused by something other than gluten, like a stomach flu or food poisoning . In these cases, over-the-counter medications can also help.

There are two main active ingredients in over-the-counter diarrhea medications: loperamide hydrochloride and bismuth subsalicylate. Loperamide hydrochloride (found in imodium ) slows down movement in the intestines, which in turn allows the body to absorb fluids. from the chair.

Bismuth subsalicylate (found in pepto-bismol and some tablets) coats the intestinal mucosa and relieves inflammation and prevents too much fluid from entering the stool.

Essential over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications found at any pharmacy contain one of these two ingredients. Here's a rundown of popular brands, including those that are gluten-free.

Without gluten

Gluten-free diarrhea medications include:

  • Target Up and Up 5 Symptom Digest Liquid (30 ml), 8 oz : Contains the same active ingredient as pepto-bismol and kaopectate. Look for Gluten Free in the box next to the Drug Information panel.
  • Loperamide hydrochloride capsules (2 mg) from Target Up and Up (brand name) . The safes will say "gluten-free" next to the Drug Facts panel.
  • Walgreens Brand Diarrhea Relief Capsules (262 mg) – Active ingredient is bismuth subsalicylate. Observe the gluten-free label on the box.
  • Walgreens Brand Loperamide Hydrochloride Liquid Suspension (1mg) Mint : This is a versatile version of Imodium. Look for boxes labeled "gluten-free."

Not gluten free

These brand-name over-the-counter diarrhea medications are gluten-free:

Imodium

The Imodium product line, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, includes Imodium AD Softgels, Imodium AD Capsules, Imodium AD Liquid, Imodium for Children, and Imodium Multi-Symptom Relief (also treats gas, cramps, and bloating).

The products are gluten-free, but Johnson and Johnson say they are gluten-free. So go for Target Up and Up loperamide hydrochloride capsules or Walgreens brand loperamide hydrochloride capsules in gluten-free packages.

Pepto-Bismol

The familiar pink liquid that Procter & Gamble sells to treat diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, nausea, gas, belching, and fullness contains bismuth subsalicylate. Pepto-Bismol also offers chewable tablets, capsules, and baby formulations.

Products are gluten-free, but may be contaminated with gluten in the manufacturing plant. Instead of brand-name pepto-bismol, consider products that contain bismuth subsalicylate, such as Walgreens-brand diarrhea relief tablets or Target Up and Up 5 Symptom digestive aid liquid.

kaopectat

Like Pepto-Bismol, the active ingredient in Kaopectate is bismuth subsalicylate. It comes in liquid varieties of cherry, vanilla, mint and max (also mint), and coated capsules.

According to manufacturer Chattem Inc., Kaopectate products have not been tested for gluten content. Therefore, you must replace one of the gluten-free products that contain bismuth subsalicylate.

Bottom line for gluten-free diarrhea medications: The most famous brand-name medications, Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, and Kaopectate, are not considered gluten-free, but there are regular brand alternatives available at Target and Walgreens.

Gluten-free laxatives

To prevent constipation, you should try to increase your fiber intake. You can do this by making sure there are plenty of gluten-free fiber sources in your regular diet or by using gluten-free supplements. This can help bulk up your stool and make bowel movements easier.

Some people also find probiotics to help maintain their regularity (be sure to choose only gluten-free probiotics) .

However, once you are truly constipated, whether from constipation due to celiac disease or for some other reason, you have several over-the-counter alternatives.

Stool softeners, considered the mildest laxatives, help the body mix fluids with stool, soften stool, and make stool easier to pass. Medications used as stool softeners include docusat .

Meanwhile, so-called osmotic laxatives actually help move more fluid into the intestines and into the stool, which (as with stool softeners) makes stool easier to pass. Polyethylene glycol and magnesium hydroxide solution are two examples of osmotic laxatives .

Finally, stimulant laxatives cause your colon to contract to move stool. Because these laxatives are considered powerful and can be addictive, you shouldn't use them for more than a few days at any one time. Senna and bisacodyl are two examples of stimulant laxatives .

Without gluten

Here is a list of laxatives that are considered gluten-free:

  • Colace – This line of laxatives and stool softeners includes three options: Colace Capsules, Colace Clear Softgels, and Peri Colace Tablets. Colace and Colace Clear each contain 100 mg of stool softener with docusate sodium, while Peri Colace tablets contain both docusate sodium and the stimulant senna.
  • Senokot – This brand produces senna-based laxatives. There are three types of hay available: Senocot (active ingredient 8.6 mg sennosides), Senocot-S (contains 8.6 mg sennosides and 50 mg docusate sodium) and SenocotXTRA (contains sennosides in a double dose – 17, 2 mg).
  • MiraLAX : MiraLAX is only available as a powder in a variety of bottle sizes. The active ingredient is polyethylene glycol (17 mg), an osmotic laxative. To use MiraLAX, mix it with water or another drink. According to the manufacturer Bayer, MiraLAX is considered gluten-free.

Not gluten free

These brand name laxatives are not considered gluten-free:

Dulcolax

This brand, made by Sanofi, offers seven different products, including tablets and laxatives for constipation and gas. Those labeled laxatives contain bisacodyl and those labeled stool softeners contain docusate sodium.

Instead of Dulcolax, choose another product that contains bisacodyl or docusate sodium.

Ex-Lax

This laxative, which contains sennosides as an active ingredient, is available in chocolate-flavored chunks and tablets. None of the three versions of Ex-Lax is considered gluten-free. Therefore, you should use a gluten-free senna laxative like haycot.

Phillips Milk of Magnesia and other Phillips products

Phillips, a Bayer company, produces Magnesia Milk (active ingredient: magnesium hydroxide) together with Phillips Laxative Caplets (active ingredient: magnesium oxide) and Phillips Stool Softener liquid gels (active ingredient: docusate sodium).

Instead of Phillips, try a gluten-free stool softener like Colace or a gluten-free osmotic laxative like MiraLAX.

The bottom line on gluten-free laxatives: If you look closely, you can find a gluten-free laxative that contains a stool softener, osmotic drug, or senna-based drug. However, again, you should steer clear of the well-known brands.

Gluten-free antacids

Get Drug Information / Anastasia Tretyak

It is not uncommon for people with celiac disease or gluten insensitivity to have heartburn, a burning sensation in the upper chest. In fact, some research suggests that people with celiac disease may be more likely to have acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) when they stop consuming gluten .

If you have heartburn or have been diagnosed with GERD, you can take a variety of over-the-counter medications. These medications are known as antacids because they reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, thus reducing the burning sensation.

A group of medicines called H2 blockers reduce the amount of acid made in the stomach. The active ingredients ranitidine and famotidine are examples of H2 blockers.

Meanwhile, drugs called proton pump inhibitors also reduce heartburn, but through a different mechanism in the stomach. Examples of proton pump inhibitors include the active ingredients omeprazole and lansoprazole .

Lastly, calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide antacids neutralize acid already in the stomach, helping reduce acid-related discomfort .

Generally speaking, when it comes to antacids, it can be difficult to find a brand-name, over-the-counter drug that is labeled gluten-free. However, there are many alternatives related to trademarks.

Update April 1, 2020: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the recall of all drugs that contain the ingredient ranitidine, known under the brand name Zantac. The FDA has also recommended not taking over-the-counter ranitidine and that patients taking prescription ranitidine discuss other treatment options with their healthcare provider before stopping their medication. For more information, visit the FDA website .

Without gluten

Here's a rundown of the various gluten-free antacids on the market:

  • Equate Antacids (Walmart) : They contain calcium carbonate, which makes them similar to Tums. They come in a variety of flavors and strengths. Be sure to choose the one that says "gluten free" on the label.
  • Equate Brand Famotidine Tablets (20mg) (Walmart) – This is the generic version of Pepcid AC. Look for the "gluten-free" label under the Drug Facts panel on the packaging.
  • Equate Brand Ranitidine Tablets (150mg) (Walmart) – This is the generic version of Zantac. Look for the "gluten-free" label under the Drug Facts panel on the packaging. Only a few packets of Equate are gluten-free, so stick with them.
  • Target Up and Up Antacids – These calcium carbonate antacids are similar to Tums and come in different flavors and strengths. Notice the gluten-free lettering on the back of the bottle.
  • Target Up and Up Antacid Soft Chews: These cherry flavored calcium carbonate antacids are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), requiring testing for gluten below 10 ppm. Look for the GFCO symbol on the back of the package.
  • Lansoprazole 24 Hour Tablets (15mg) Target Up and Up – This is the generic version of Prevacid. Look for the "gluten-free" label in the colored box next to the Medication Information section of the package.
  • Target Up and Up Brand Ranitidine Tablets (150mg) – This is the generic version of Zantac. Look for the "gluten-free" label in the colored box next to the Medication Information section of the package.
  • Tums – This is the only brand name antacid that claims to be gluten free. Tums tablets, which come in a wide variety of flavors and strengths, contain the active ingredient calcium carbonate and are considered gluten-free according to the manufacturer.
  • Walgreens brand extra strong berries antacid tablets :   These 750mg Calcium Carbonate Tablets are the universal version of Tums. They have a gluten-free label.
  • Walgreens Brand Lansoprazole Tablets (15mg) – This is the universal version of Prevacid. Note the "gluten-free" label next to the "Medication Information" label on the packaging.

Not gluten free

These brand name antacids are not considered gluten-free:

  • Alka-Seltzer : This pop, pop, fizz, fizz brand offers several different fizzy remedies for heartburn and gas. However, a Bayer spokesperson said the products are manufactured in a facility that is used in conjunction with gluten-containing products and is not considered gluten-free.
  • Nexium – Known as the "purple pill," Nexium contains 22.3 mg of esomeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor. Manufactured by Pfizer, Inc. does not guarantee that a product is gluten-free.
  • Pepcid : Pepcid AC contains the H2 blocker famotidine and Pepcid Complete contains famotidine plus acid reducing agents, calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide. However, the manufacturer McNeil Consumer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. does not guarantee that the products are gluten-free.
  • Prevacid – This product, manufactured by Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., contains the proton pump inhibitor lansoprazole. Takeda does not guarantee that this product is gluten-free.
  • Prilosec : Prilosec, manufactured by Procter & Gamble, contains the proton pump inhibitor omeprazole. Its manufacturer does not say if the product does not contain gluten.
  • Zantac : Zantac, manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim, contains ranitidine, an H2 blocker. Like other brand-name products in this category, Zantac does not guarantee gluten-free.

There are over-the-counter gluten-free substitutes for almost every known antacid, so you can try several to find the one that works for you if necessary.

Get the word of drug information

If you need an antacid, antidiarrheal medicine, or laxative, there are gluten-free alternatives. Often times, you will be better off using the generic version of the brand name drug, as they are more reliably labeled "gluten free."

However, you may have to shop around – not all pharmacies or major national stores carry all medications in a gluten-free version. When shopping for over-the-counter medications, be sure to check that each package is gluten-free at all times.

While stores like Target and Walgreens (and to a lesser extent Walmart) have consistently sold gluten-free foods, food recipes can change at any time. Always check the security of what you buy that day.

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