Antidiarrheal drugs

Antidiarrheal drugs are medicines that relieve diarrhea. Antidiarrheal drugshelp control diarrhea and some of the symptoms that go along with it. An average, healthy person has anywhere from three bowel movements a day to three aweek, depending on that person's diet. Normally the stool (the material thatis passed in a bowel movement) has a texture something like clay. With diarrhea, bowel movements may be more frequent, and the texture of the stool is thin and sometimes watery. Diarrhea is not a disease, but a symptom of some other problem. The symptom may be caused by eating or drinking food or water thatis contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites, or by eating somethingthat is difficult to digest. People who have trouble digesting lactose (milksugar), for example, may get diarrhea if they eat dairy products. Some casesof diarrhea are caused by stress, while others are brought on by taking certain medicines.

Antidiarrheal drugs work in several different ways. The drug loperamide, found in Imodium A-D, for example, slows the passage of stools through the intestines. This allows more time for water and salts in the stools to be absorbedback into the body. Adsorbents, such as attapulgite (found in Kaopectate) pull diarrhea-causing substances from the digestive tract. However, they may also pull out substances that the body needs, such as enzymes and nutrients. Bismuth subsalicylate, the ingredient in Pepto-Bismol, decreases the secretion of fluid into the intestine and inhibits the activity of bacteria. It not onlycontrols diarrhea, but relieves the cramps that often accompany diarrhea. Itnot only controls diarrhea, but relieves the cramps that often accompany diarrhea. These medicines come in liquid, tablet, caplet, and chewable tablet forms and can be bought without a physician's prescription. The dose depends onthe type of antidiarrheal drug. Read and follow the directions on the product label. For questions about dosage, check with a physician or pharmacist. Never take larger or more frequent doses, and do not take the drug for longer than directed.

Diarrhea usually improves within 24-48 hours. If the problem lasts longer orif it keeps coming back, diarrhea could be a sign of a more serious problem.and medical attention as soon as possible. Severe, long-lasting diarrhea canlead to dehydration. In such cases, lost fluids and salts, such as calcium, sodium, and potassium, must be replaced.

Anyone who has a history of liver disease or who has been taking antibioticsshould check with his or her physician before taking the antidiarrheal drug loperamide. A physician should also be consulted before anyone with acute ulcerative colitis or anyone who has been advised to avoid constipation uses thedrug. Loperamide should not be used by people whose diarrhea is caused by certain infections, such as salmonella or shigella. To be safe, check with a physician before using this drug. Before taking antidiarrheal drugs, be sure tolet the physician know about all medical conditions. The physician should also be told about any allergies to foods, dyes, preservatives, or other substances.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should check with their physicians before using antidiarrheal drugs. They should also ask advice on how to replacelost fluids and salts.

Taking antidiarrheal drugs with certain other drugs may affect the way the drugs work or may increase the chance of side effects. The most common side effects of attapulgite are constipation, bloating, and fullness. Bismuth subsalicylate may cause ringing in the ears, but that side effect is rare. Possibleside effects from loperamide include skin rash, constipation, drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, and swelling, pain, and discomfort in the abdomen. Some of these symptoms are the same as those that occurwith diarrhea, so it may be difficult to tell if the medicine is causing theproblems. Children may be more sensitive than adults to certain side effectsof loperamide, such as drowsiness and dizziness. Other rare side effects mayoccur with any antidiarrheal medicine. Anyone who has unusual symptoms aftertaking an antidiarrhea drug should get in touch with his or her physician.

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