How does it work?
Imodium capsules, syrup and instants all contain the active ingredient loperamide hydrochloride, which is a medicine used to treat diarrhoea. (NB. Loperamide is also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine.) Loperamide works by slowing the muscular contractions of the intestine and so is called an ‘antimotility’ medicine.
Loperamide works by acting on opioid receptors that are found in the muscle lining the walls of the intestines. By acting on these receptors, loperamide reduces the muscular contractions of the intestine (called peristalsis) that move food and faecal matter through the gut.
This reduces the speed at which the gut contents are pushed through the intestines, allowing more time for water and electrolytes to be reabsorbed from the gut contents back into the body. This results in firmer stools that are passed less frequently.
Loperamide can be bought without a prescription to treat acute (sudden and short-lived) episodes of watery diarrhoea in adults.
Loperamide can also be used to control flare-ups of chronic (long-term) diarrhoea, however it should only be used for this purpose on the advice of a doctor. It should only be used to treat diarrhoea associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) after initial diagnosis of IBS by a doctor.
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