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What is Loperamide?

Loperamide is classed as an "anti-motility agent" and works by slowing down the waves of movement in the bowel (peristalsis). It works very quickly - sometimes as soon as 1 hour after you take an oral dose. It's not a substitute for rehydration, so you will still need to drink plenty of bland fluids, or preferably an oral rehydration solution containing salts and sugars.

Loperamide is available from most pharmacies under the brand name "Imodium", as well as generically; and it can be prescribed by doctors too.

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How do I use Loperamide?

Loperamide is available as 2mg capsules. The normal adult dose is two of these capsules (4mg of loperamide) to be taken initially, followed by one further capsule after each loose stool. You shouldn't take more than six capsules in a day, and you should stop taking it once the diarrhoea has gone. It is not recommended to be used by children under 12 unless specifically prescribed by a doctor.

There are some situations where loperamide should be used with caution or would not be recommended, for example in patients who have certain bowel conditions such as acute dysentery, acute ulcerative colitis, bacterial enterocolitis caused by invasive organisms, or pseudomembranous colitis associated with the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Tell the doctor if you are taking any other medicines, either from your doctor or purchased from a pharmacy. Loperamide may not be suitable or may need to be used with caution if you are taking some medicines, such as oral desmopressin.

What are the side effects of Loperamide?

Like all medicines, loperamide can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them. Side effects that are considered to be common include headaches, constipation, nausea, and flatulence. Some uncommon side effects include dizziness, sleepiness, skin rash, or stomach discomfort.

For a full list of potential side effects and other important information, please read the patient leaflet provided in the pack before starting any course of treatment. The leaflet can also be viewed online here.