Over-the-Counter Drugs - Antidiarrhea medicine

When the digestive tract is functioning normally, food and fluid pass from the stomach into the small intestine and colon. Cells that line the small intestine and colon absorb nutrients and water, then pass the waste along. If these cells become irritated, they cannot absorb the nutrients and water, as they should. The food and fluids then move through the colon too fast, which results in a watery stool called diarrhea.

There are a number of things that can irritate the cells lining the small intestine and colon. The most common culprits are allergies to certain foods and parasites or bacteria found in the food and water of some foreign countries. Stressful situations, poisons, blood pressure drugs, and drinking too much alcohol may also lead to diarrhea.


The FDA has labeling guidelines for OTC drugs that make the packages easier to read and understand for consumers. The label must detail:

  • Active ingredients, or the primary ingredients.
  • The use, or the types of symptoms that the drug treats.
  • Directions, or the amount a person should take, how often it should be taken, and for how long.
  • Warnings, or possible interactions with other drugs or side effects the medicine may cause and what should be done if these things occur.

OTC antidiarrhea drugs, such as Imodium and Kaopectate, cannot cure diarrhea; rather they only control its symptoms. People who are experiencing diarrhea should try to rest, eat small amounts of food at a time, and avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. Antidiarrhea drugs should not be used for more than two days.

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