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You may be asking yourself, can I take Imodium for IBS?
Having disruptive bowel symptoms in IBS is common. Imodium can be a useful medication to relieve your diarrhoea caused by IBS.
But IBS is very individual. This post will answer some of the questions you might have about taking Imodium for IBS.
This post is for general information and interest only, it does not provide medical advice. If you require medical advice please seek this from your doctor.
What is Imodium?
Imodium is an over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication. You can access this easily in supermarkets, pharmacies or through a prescription. It is actually a brand name for the drug loperamide.
National clinical guidelines say that loperamide is a drug that is licensed to treat acute diarrhoea in IBS (1).
Other brands of loperamide include:
- Some supermarkets may have their own brand of loperamide tablets, too.
They come in various forms, including:
- Melt on the tongue tablets
Some of these brands sold in the shops say IBS on the packaging. These are no different from the others.
How does Imodium work?
Imodium is an antimotility drug which means it works by slowing down the pace of the gut. As a result, it takes longer for food and fluid to move through the gut.
By doing this, the gut has more time to absorb water and nutrients. The result is a drier gut and consequently a formed poop!
How long does Imodium take to work?
Imodium can start working after an hour of taking the initial dose.
If your diarrhoea continues, you can take your next dose after your next bout of diarrhoea.
Keep in mind that the dose may vary according to the version you have bought. Follow the instructions provided by the brand or from a registered medical professional.
How long does Imodium last?
Imodium usually works for around 8-18hours (2). After this point, you may find your diarrhoea coming back or worsening.
What is the best time of day to take Imodium?
It is often recommended to take Imodium after every bout of diarrhoea after the initial dose (3).
Diarrhoea can often be triggered by eating in IBS. It makes sense that you may find it useful to take roughly 30 minutes before a meal(4). Your gut is also more active in the morning, so it might be that it is more effective after breakfast. (5)
Though this will be individual and depend on your personal triggers and symptoms.
Is it harmful to take Imodium every day?
Many people take loperamide long-term. If you find yourself taking loperamide for more than 2 days, you should seek advice from your GP (3)
You should not take Imodium if you have certain medical conditions. This means you should to check with your doctor first.
What are the side effects of taking too much Imodium?
Like any medication, there can be side effects of taking Imodium, which might include (3):
- dry mouth
We often see people feeling very anxious about having diarrhoea. This means you may be tempted to take too much Imodium.
But this may result in too much water being drawn out of the gut. This results in hard stools and the yo-yo effect of diarrhoea to constipation etc. You should be careful by monitoring your symptoms and how much Imodium you are taking.
Also too much Imodium can also result in serious heart problems (3) .
Imodium could be a useful medication for managing your diarrhoea. However, if using Imodium for IBS for over 2 days you should check in with your doctor before carrying on.
And remember, IBS is multifactorial – so diet and lifestyle approaches should also be a part of your IBS management. It is recommended that you work with a specialist dietitian to help you.
Written by Annabelle Green Student Dietitian and reviewed by Beth Willson Specialist Surgical Dietitian BSc Hons RD
Beth is UK HCPC Registered Dietitian who specialises in gastrointestinal surgery. Beth graduated from University of Surrey in 2020 with a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.
I’m finding that taking 1/2 of a 2 mg. loperamide tablet is sufficient to slow down what my husband calls my “galloping gut”. I figure that it’s better to start with the smaller dose and increase if necessary.