Antidiarrheal Medications


Antidiarrheal medications are prescribed often to control diarrhea caused by Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and pouchitis. As a general rule, people with these illnesses should aim for a modest reduction in the number of stools passed, rather than a total elimination of the problem. Overuse of antidiarrheal drugs, for more than 2 or 3 days at a time may lead to serious complications and should only be used under the guidance of a physician or an IBD specialist.

Loperamide (ImodiumĀ®) and Diphenoxylate (LomotilĀ®)

These drugs reduce diarrhea by slowing the rate at which food is propelled through the intestine, allowing more time for bacteria to break down undigested fats and fibre and allowing more time for absorption of fluid and electrolytes. Loperamide also tightens the anal sphincter and helps prevent incontinence. Since these drugs on occasion can paralyse the colonic muscles and lead to serious complications, they should not be used for severe ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease in the acute situation.

Possible side effects:

  • gas
  • bloating
  • cramps
  • constipation
  • nausea *
  • drowsiness *

* when opioid analgesics such as codeine are used to slow down watery bowel movements