Loperamide Uses: What Is Imodium Used For And Why?

Last Updated: December 18, 2019

Authored by Olivier George, Ph.D.

Many people use Imodium for diarrhea. However, few bother reading Imodium directions before doing so. It is important that people know proper Imodium use before taking the medication, as it is a matter of safety.

Imodium Uses

Imodium directions are instructions for using the drug. The specifics of these directions will depend on what Imodium is used for. Users should carefully read the instructions on the packaging of their loperamide medication before they take a loperamide 2 mg tablet or other formulation of the medicine.

Users must keep in mind that they need to go over the full directions, not just the dosing information. For example, the side effects of Imodium will be listed separately but should be known. The same is true of interactions. While going over the fine print is not fun, it is essential.

Imodium Use For Diarrhea

The most common reason to take Imodium is for diarrhea treatment. When speaking about the condition generally, it is assumed it is not a chronic condition and that its cause is not related to stomach flu or food poisoning. Most adults and children over the age of two can use basic formulations of loperamide for diarrhea safely.

imodium use for diarrheaAccording to directions, patients should take the antidiarrheal loperamide after their first loose stool and take new doses after each subsequent loose stool. However, it is common for people to delay starting, wondering if they should take Imodium for diarrhea or let it run its course. This is a matter of personal choice, though the sooner the medication is taken, the sooner diarrhea will stop.

Loperamide can be taken with or without food. However, users should drink plenty of fluids with it since diarrhea itself is dehydrating. The Imodium mechanism of action should deliver results quickly, often within a day or less.

Imodium Use For IBS

People using Imodium for IBS are using it off label. As such, they should not attempt to treat their condition with loperamide unless instructed to do so by a doctor. Loperamide hydrochloride tablets and other formulations are meant to treat acute diarrhea, not chronic conditions.

This does not mean that Imodium and IBS are not compatible. However, one needs to carefully follow the directions for using loperamide for IBS. These include:

  • consuming a lot of fluids
  • not taking loperamide consistently but rather on an as-needed basis whenever possible
  • stopping the use of loperamide if it does not deliver the improvements it should.

The patient may be directed to take it daily by a doctor, but they should not decide to do this on their own.

Imodium For Stomach Flu

The stomach flu is another common condition that causes diarrhea. However, it is not a good idea to use loperamide in all cases. If the stomach flu is viral, using loperamide is fine. But if the stomach flu is actually a bacterial infection, using loperamide can prolong the infection and make the symptoms worse. Users should get a clear diagnosis from a doctor before using loperamide for stomach flu management.

If the use is approved, one should carefully monitor the symptoms. If any get worse, one should stop using the drug for stomach flu and go back to the doctor. If diarrhea fails to improve after a day or so, another medication may be needed. As with all cases of diarrhea, one should make sure to stay hydrated while on loperamide.

Imodium For Food Poisoning

As with the stomach flu, patients must exercise caution with this Imodium use. Food poisoning can be viral or bacterial in nature. If viral, using loperamide is fine, within reason. For example, Imodium for a three-year-old with viral food poisoning may not be advised, but for a healthy adult should be fine.

imodium use for food poisoningIf food poisoning is bacterial, loperamide use should be avoided. Keep in mind that food poisoning can be incredibly dangerous and it should not be treated with over-the-counter medications unless directed to do so by a doctor.

Imodium For Nausea

Diarrhea tends to come with multiple other symptoms, including nausea. As a result, many people assume that Imodium does help with nausea as well as diarrhea. However, the original formula does not. If someone is experiencing both nausea and diarrhea, one can take other loperamide formulas, such as Imodium Multi-Symptom Relief. However, if one needs to treat nausea alone, one should seek out other medications.

Imodium For Gas

As with nausea, gas is a common side symptom of diarrhea. This makes many wonders if Imodium can help with gas. Just like nausea, gas is not treated by the original formula. If wanting to use Imodium for gas, other formulations will be needed. And if someone is needed to treat gas without diarrhea being present, no loperamide medication should be used.

Imodium Recreational Use

When it comes to recreational use of the medication, loperamide is not the drug of the first choice. Nonetheless, due to limited access to more potent opioids, it is often used by addicts. After 2015, when an increasing number of opioid addicts turned to loperamide, the FDA called to limit the availability of loperamide for public-safety reasons voluntarily.

Imodium Use For Opiate Withdrawals

The opioid addicts use loperamide not only to get high but for treating opiate withdrawal. In this case, it is self-medication measures which do not prove themselves. Frequently, individuals who use Imodium for opiate withdrawal face severe side effects without desired benefits.

How Often Can One Use Imodium?

Another aspect of loperamide directions users should know is how often one can take Imodium. There are no clear rules on what the limit is. For example, some people take Imodium every day for IBS. However, Imodium daily use is not recommended without being instructed to do so by a doctor.

For someone not being directed in their use by a doctor, how often one can take Imodium should be only as often as they have diarrhea. If this happens more than a few times a year, a medical opinion should be sought. Keep in mind that users should not take Imodium before diarrhea, only after the first loose stool.

Long-Term Imodium Use

long term use of imodium for ibsIf someone is directed to engage in long-term use of Imodium for IBS, one needs to work closely with the doctor. In many cases, they will be told only to take the drug when needed, treating bouts of diarrhea as they come. For those with severe IBS where diarrhea is a daily occurrence, they may be told to take Imodium every day for IBS.

Loperamide Warnings

In the Imodium instructions, there should also be warnings. Loperamide warnings are essential to read, as they can indicate various medications and health problems that are contraindicated for loperamide use.

For example, a common Imodium contraindication is for those with celiac disease. The name brand formulas contain gluten, which means they can make symptoms of the condition worse rather than better. And while one can take Imodium with metformin to combat diabetes-related diarrhea, it should not be done long-term.

Deciding if one can take Imodium while pregnant is a matter of weighing the benefits and risks. Loperamide is a Category C medication, meaning it cannot be ruled out that it could harm the fetus. However, there are no studies that can confirm harm either.

When Imodium Is Misused

When Imodium is used according to directions, it is safe. However, abusing it can lead to many health complications, including death. Anyone who is abusing Imodium should seek help from a drug rehabilitation center. These facilities provide treatment options for different patients to meet their needs in the best possible way and ensure a fast and smooth recovery.

Page Sources

  1. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-limits-packaging-anti-diarrhea-medicine-loperamide-imodium-encourage-safe-use

Published on: May 6th, 2019

Updated on: December 18th, 2019

About Author

Olivier George, Ph.D.

Olivier George is a medical writer and head manager of the rehab center in California. He spends a lot of time in collecting and analyzing the traditional approaches for substance abuse treatment and assessing their efficiency.


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