April 13, 2024
Diarrhea can be incredibly uncomfortable. Thankfully, there are several medications available to help. From antibiotics to opioids, over-the-counter solutions to probiotics, this article provides a handy guide to help you understand which medication is best for you.


Diarrhea can strike at any time, often catching us off guard and leaving us feeling uncomfortable and unwell. While the condition is usually not serious, it can be inconvenient and even debilitating in some cases. Luckily, there are many medications available that can provide relief from this annoying condition. In this article, we’ll explore the world of diarrhea medication, including common medications, natural remedies, and prescription options, to give you a comprehensive understanding of your options.

5 Common Medications to Soothe Your Stomach When Diarrhea Strikes

There are many over-the-counter medications that can quickly alleviate your diarrhea symptoms. Here are some of the most common medications:


Loperamide is an anti-diarrheal medication that works by reducing the frequency and intensity of bowel movements. It is usually taken in two-milligram doses, with a maximum daily dose of 16 milligrams for adults. It can be found under the brand names Imodium, Pepto Diarrhea Control, and Kaopectate II.

Bismuth Subsalicylate

Bismuth subsalicylate works by tightening the bowel muscles and reducing inflammation in the digestive tract. It also has antacid and antiseptic properties that can help combat other associated symptoms like stomach pain. The common brands include Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate.

Attapulgite is a clay-like substance that absorbs water and other substances in the intestines, reducing the frequency and severity of diarrhea. It comes in chewable tablets or as a suspension and is usually recommended for children and young adults.

Polycarbophil is a medication that can reduce stool frequency and promote solid stool formation. It is recommended for use in patients who have chronic diarrhea conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.

Psyllium is a natural fiber that absorbs water and increases stool bulk, helping to reduce diarrhea symptoms. It also has the added benefit of reducing cholesterol levels in the body, making it a great supplement for overall digestive health. Common Psyllium products include Metamucil and Citrucel.

A Comprehensive Guide to Anti-Diarrheal Medicines: Which One is Right for You?

If you suffer from chronic diarrhea, you may need a more targeted approach to your treatment. Here are some types of anti-diarrheal medications available:

Opioids are potent drugs that can treat severe diarrhea symptoms. They activate opioid receptors in the gut, reducing the activity of the enteric nervous system and slowing the rate and strength of stool formation. The commonly prescribed opioid is Lomotil.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that help maintain the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. They are used to treat diarrhea that results from an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. Common examples of Probiotic medications include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium.

Antibiotics are medications that target and eliminate bacterial infections that cause diarrhea symptoms. They are usually reserved for severe cases of diarrhea caused by bacterial infections. Common types of antibiotics prescribed for diarrhea include ciprofloxacin and ampicillin.

A selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) is an antidepressant that can help control bowel movements. It helps those with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) by slowing down the digestive tract and increasing water absorption by stool. Commonly prescribed SSRIs for IBS include fluoxetine and paroxetine.

From Imodium to Pepto-Bismol: Which Medications Actually Work for Diarrhea?

While all anti-diarrheal medications work to reduce diarrhea symptoms, certain medications are better suited for specific types of diarrhea. Here’s a quick comparison:


Oseltamivir treats diarrhea caused by the influenza virus that can cause diarrhea as a symptom.


Azithromycin is used to treat diarrhea caused by a bacterial infection, including traveler’s diarrhea.

Rifaximin is an antibiotic that treats travelers’ diarrhea and IBS-D, and it can help to reduce inflammation of the gut.

Loperamide works as an anti-diarrheal medication used to treat mild-to-moderate diarrhea.

Bismuth subsalicylate is effective for treating mild-to-moderate traveler’s diarrhea.

Stop the Runs: Our Top Picks for Over-the-Counter Diarrhea Medications

If you suffer from mild diarrhea symptoms, there are several over-the-counter medications you can try to manage your condition. Here are some of our top recommendations:

Imodium A-D is an antidiarrheal medication that can stop diarrhea within an hour. It works by slowing down digestion and intestinal movement. Adults may take two caplets up to four times daily while children ages 6 to 12 can take one capsule up to three times daily.

Pepto-Bismol helps ease the symptoms of stomach upsets, effectively treating diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. It is suitable for most people and is also available as a chewable tablet or liquid.

Kaopectate is an antidiarrheal medication that coats the stomach lining. It is available in liquid form, making it easy to take and ideal for individuals who have trouble swallowing tablets or capsules.

The Science Behind Medications for Diarrhea: How They Work and Why They’re Effective

Medications for diarrhea work in several ways, depending on the medication’s specific type and the cause of diarrhea. For instance, antidiarrheal medications like loperamide and kaolin work by slowing the movement of stool through the intestines, allowing the particle to absorb water from the stool, making it better formed. Bismuth subsalicylate helps break down the stool while providing anti-inflammatory effects to ease the symptoms.

Natural Remedies vs. Medications for Diarrhea: Which is Better?

While natural remedies like probiotics, ginger root, and chamomile tea can help ease diarrhea symptoms, they are only effective against specific types of diarrhea. In cases of chronic and severe diarrhea, medications for diarrhea will work best. Natural home remedies may not provide immediate relief, and it is always essential to speak with your doctor before using any remedies.

Understanding the Causes of Diarrhea and How Prescription Medicines Can Help

Prescription medications can help manage and treat the chronic diarrhea condition, which is caused by underlying medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Antibiotic treatments are commonly prescribed for diarrhea resulting from a bacterial infection, while antidepressants can offer relief for patients with IBS-D. The choice of medication will depend on an individual’s underlying medical condition and their symptoms.


Diarrhea is a condition that’s not only uncomfortable but can be debilitating and potentially dangerous if left untreated. Fortunately, there are medications available that can help ease diarrhea symptoms quickly and effectively. Natural remedies can be used alongside medication, but they should not be used as a substitute for drug therapy. Patients should also consult with their doctor before self-treating. With such a range of options available, a suitable treatment can be found to manage diarrhea and promote overall digestive health.

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