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Loperamide is a drug that is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment for sudden diarrhea or traveller’s diarrhea. It is more commonly known by the brand name Imodium. In some cases, it is used to treat on-going diarrhea in individuals who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or an inflammatory bowel disease.

Researchers have discovered that this medication works by slowing down the movement of the gut (contents in the bowel). The result is a decrease in bowel movements and less watery stool. It may also lower the amount of discharge in patients who have had an ileostomy procedure.

It is important to note, however, that loperamide treats only the symptoms of diarrhea but not the cause of it. Therefore, it is not recommended that you take this drug without first knowing the cause of your diarrhea, as sometimes this is your body’s way of quickly emptying your system of poisons or other harmful toxins. In such cases, halting or slowing this process can do more harm than good.

Furthermore, while this medication can help slow diarrhea, it won’t help with other symptoms common among those who suffer from digestive disorders like IBS, such as stomach pain, cramps, swelling or gas. In fact, this medication can lead to unpleasant side effects like dry mouth, stomach cramping, bloating, dizziness and constipation.

Take this product exactly as directed – either by following the directions on the product package or as prescribed by your doctor – and for no longer than is recommended. Typically the dosage is based on your condition and how well you respond to the treatment. Sometimes, following a bland diet consisting of foods and drinks that are less irritating to the stomach are also recommended when taking loperamide to help improve symptoms faster.

Keep in mind that diarrhea can be dehydrating so make sure you drink plenty of fluids (water and minerals to help replace what you lose. Inform your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of dehydration (decrease in urination, extreme thirst, weakness, fainting, etc.). If your condition does not improve after 2 days or it worsens or you develop new symptoms, you should seek medical attention as you may have a more serious medical problem.

This medication is not safe for everyone to take. Anyone with an allergy to this drug, who has stomach pain without diarrhea or who is constipated, has stomach bloating, dark tarry stools or blood stools should not take loperamide. You should also consult with your doctor prior to taking this drug if you are currently taking any medications (prescription or OTC), dietary supplements or have an existing medical condition.

Loperamide is not meant to be used as a long-term treatment for diarrhea. If you have chronic diarrhea due to a digestive disorder or some other issues, you should first speak with your healthcare provider before self-treating with any OTC product designed for diarrhea relief.

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