The internal debate over whether or not it is safe to take an Imodium (loperamide) before going out often adds to the stress and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The following overview of Imodium is offered to help you make an informed decision and put your mind at ease.
Benefits of Imodium
Imodium is a medication that is effective in reducing the symptoms of diarrhea. Specifically, Imodium:
- Reduces the speed and frequency of gut contractions
- Reduces the secretion of fluid
- Increases the absorption of fluids and electrolytes from the intestinal tract
- Increases the transit time of stool through the colon
- Increases muscle tone in the anal sphincter, thus reducing the chances of fecal incontinence
- Does not reduce abdominal pain
Common Side Effects
Imodium is usually well-tolerated and side effects are rare. Due to the way it is handled at the level of the blood-brain barrier, Imodium has minimal effects on the central nervous system; therefore, there is no risk for addiction and side effects are generally found only in the area of digestive functioning (abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting or nausea, bloating and constipation).
Imodium and Children
Imodium is generally seen as a safe, effective remedy for the treatment of diarrhea in children over the age of 3. Imodium would not be recommended for a child who is dehydrated, malnourished or is experiencing bloody diarrhea.
Imodium and Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you should not use any medication without first getting approval from your physician. A small study was recently published, which found a link between the use of Imodium in early pregnancy and several fetal risk factors, including hypospadias (a urethra birth defect concerning the opening of the penis), large baby size and a higher rate of Cesarean births.
Imodium and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
People who suffer from an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) should not take Imodium without permission from their doctor. The use of antidiarrheal medications such as Imodium place IBD patients at risk for the development of toxic megacolon, a potentially life-threatening disorder. For more on the subject, see:
The Bottom Line
Except for precautions taken with young children, pregnant women and those with IBD, Imodium is considered to be a relatively safe, well-tolerated option for dealing with diarrhea. As the medication only acts on the digestive tract, there appears to be little risk associated with long-term or frequent use. Discuss your dosage with your doctor or follow the dosing instructions on the product package. Imodium is likely to help reduce the severity of your diarrhea and, just as important, add to your peace of mind.
Baker, D. “Loperamide: a pharmacological review.” Reviews in Gastroenterological Disorders 2007:S11-S18.
Hanauer, S. “The role of loperamide in gastrointestinal disorders.” Reviews in Gastroenterological Disorders 2008:15-20.
Li,, S., Grossman, D. & Cummings, P. “Loperamide therapy for acute diarrhea in children: systematic review and meta-analysis.” PLoS Medicine 2007:e98.
Kallen, B., Nilsson, E. & Otterblad Olausson, P. “Maternal use of loperamide in early pregnancy and delivery outcome.” Acta Paediatrica 2008:541-545.
Kaplan, M., Prior, M. McKonly, K., DuPont, H., Temple, A. & Nelson, E. “ A multicenter randomized controlled trial of a liquid loperamide product versus placebo in the treatment of acute diarrhea in children.” Clinical Pediatrics 1999:579-591.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.