Overview and safety of imodium for diarrhea


Imodium (loperamide) is often used to treat diarrhea , but is it safe? How much can you take without worrying about taking too much? Let's see what Imodium can do for you and if it carries any security risks.

Illustration by Cindy Chang, Get Drug Information


Imodium is a medicine that reduces the symptoms of diarrhea. In particular , imodium acts as follows:

  • Reduces the speed and frequency of colon contractions.
  • It reduces the secretion of fluid in the colon.
  • Increases the absorption of fluids and electrolytes in the intestinal tract.
  • Increases the time it takes for stool to pass through the colon
  • Increases muscle tone in the anal sphincter , thus reducing the likelihood of contamination.
  • It may have no or limited effect in reducing abdominal pain .

Contraindications and modifications.

Do not take Imodium if you notice any signs of rectal bleeding or blood in your stool . Also, avoid it if you have a fever or any other sign of a bacterial infection such as C. diff , salmonella, or E. coli .

With a bacterial infection, you don't want to slow down your intestinal transit because you want to help the body rid itself of the infectious agent as quickly as possible .

Use by children

Imodium is generally considered a safe and effective treatment for diarrhea in children over 6 years of age. However, it is always recommended to check with your child's healthcare provider before administering any medication, even if it is available without a prescription.

Imodium is not recommended for children suffering from dehydration, malnutrition, or bloody diarrhea.

Use during pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you should not take any medications without the prior approval of your healthcare professional.

A small study published in 2008 found a possible link between the use of Imodium in early pregnancy and various risk factors for the fetus. These include hypospadias (a birth defect in the urethra associated with the opening of the penis), a larger baby, and a higher incidence of C-sections.

Use in inflammatory bowel disease

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) should not take Imodium without a doctor's approval. The use of antidiarrheal medications such as Imodium puts IBD patients at risk of developing toxic megacolon, a life-threatening disease.


For best results, follow the dosage information on the medicine package. A typical dose of Imodium is 2 milligrams (mg) twice a day.

To reduce the risk of Imodium working too well and causing you a new problem, namely the problem of constipation, it is recommended to start with a small dose, perhaps limiting it to 1-2 mg during the course of treatment. day.

If necessary, you can increase the amount of Imodium you take. The maximum you should take per day is 8 mg, unless your healthcare professional tells you otherwise. Make sure you drink plenty of water while taking Imodium.

Please note that Imodium's maximum effectiveness is reached approximately 16-24 hours after taking it.

Common side effects

Imodium is well tolerated and causes minimal side effects. This is because it acts mainly in the colon. Very little of the drug enters the bloodstream and does not cross the blood-brain barrier, so there is no risk of dependence.

When side effects do occur, they are generally only digestive in nature :

  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Swelling
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Threw up

In 2016, the FDA issued a warning about the misuse of Imodium. This is associated with an increased risk of serious heart problems due to very high doses and interactions with other medications . The warning was triggered primarily by people self-treating opioid withdrawal symptoms with large amounts of imodium.

Get the word of drug information

With the exception of precautions for young children, pregnant women, and people with IBD, Imodium is considered a relatively safe and well-tolerated drug for the treatment of diarrhea. Since the drug only acts on the digestive tract, the risk appears to be small with prolonged or frequent use.

If you find that you need to take Imodium more often, be sure to discuss your symptoms and dosage with your doctor.

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