Home Treatments for Diarrhea

By Sarah West, PharmD Candidate 2022
University of Florida College of Pharmacy

March 15, 2022

Diarrhea Treatment

Diarrhea is a common issue caused by many different things and can affect anyone. When the contents of your bowel move through your intestines too fast, the water in your stool is left unabsorbed. Though it often comes and goes within a couple of days, some patients can have frequent episodes.

Fortunately, you can reduce your symptoms of diarrhea with low-cost, over-the-counter medications. Continue reading to learn if anti-diarrhea medications are right for you.

Causes

Diarrhea is often viral and usually resolves quickly without medication. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can be another cause. You can help prevent diarrhea by managing your diet and managing conditions that can cause diarrhea. You should avoid fried and fatty foods and eat more foods high in fiber, such as broccoli and whole grains. If traveling to developing countries, be sure to drink clean water. If you have a dairy allergy (lactose intolerant), this could be another reason why you may be having diarrhea often.

Medications are also a common cause of diarrhea. These medications have a higher incidence of causing diarrhea:

  • Heartburn medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Laxatives
  • Colchicine
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Misoprostol

Non-medication Treatment

Even if you use medications to help treat diarrhea, it is important that you also replace the water and electrolytes in your body to prevent dehydration. Oral rehydration solution (ORS) is the best method to replace both. Pedialyte is an example of ORS, and you can find it in most pharmacies or grocery stores. Water is also a good solution.

Over-The-Counter Medications 

The most common medications to treat diarrhea over-the-counter are bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) and loperamide (Imodium). Both are available in pill and liquid form.

Pepto-Bismol can be used for diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, and preventing traveler’s diarrhea. If you have an allergy to aspirin or ibuprofen, kidney problems, or taking blood thinners, talk with your pharmacist or doctor before using this medication. Please avoid using this medication in children younger than 12 years old, as it may cause a condition known as Reye's syndrome. A side effect that you may experience when taking Pepto-Bismol is a black tongue or black stool. It is okay and still safe to take if this happens. However, if you experience ringing in your ears, you should stop taking the medication and contact your doctor, as this may indicate toxicity. Do not take Pepto-Bismol longer than 2 days without a doctor's approval.

Imodium is a medication that slows down the movement of your bowels through your intestines, allowing more water to be absorbed. You may experience mild side effects that include dizziness, constipation, or stomach cramping. This medication should not be used in children younger than 2 years old. Contact your doctor if you have diarrhea that lasts longer than 2 days when using Imodium.

When to see a doctor

Do not use over-the-counter medications longer than 2 days to treat diarrhea without contacting your doctor. Other reasons you may need to see your doctor before taking these medications for diarrhea include:

  • Children younger than 6 months old
  • High fever (>101°F)
  • Blood or mucus in stool
  • Pregnant
  • Severe dehydration
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Risk of complications due to other medical conditions

If you have chronic or frequent diarrhea, speak with your doctor to see if you may have any underlying conditions causing it. For frequent diarrhea, your doctor may be able to prescribe you medications such as Lomotil, Bentyl, or Viberzi. These may help if over-the-counter options do not relieve your symptoms.

Resources:

https://journals.lww.com/ajg/fulltext/2016/05000/acg_clinical_guideline__diagnosis,_treatment,_and.14.aspx

https://www.wellrx.com/LOPERAMIDE/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/PEPTO-BISMOL/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/health-conditions/about/health-condition/diarrhea/~default/

Save as you go
Save on the Go

For your convenience, use the ScriptSave® WellRx mobile app. Now savings are well in hand, right at the pharmacy counter. Save on your family's prescription medicines.

Learn More
Card
Get a Prescription Discount Card

Your choice. Get a ScriptSave WellRx Savings Card. Or Download the free mobile app from the App Store or Google Plage Store

Get A Card
Save on your medications today!
Grocery Guidance

ScriptSave WellRx Grocery Guidance brings together leading-edge nutritional data science with AI powered personalization to help you know which food products on your grocery store shelf are truly good for YOU.

Healthy Foods For You

Struggling to afford your medications? Search to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you. You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

WellRx on TrustPilot ©

Log In

You need to log into the site to use this feature

Create A Free Account To Use Medicine Chest

This feature requires registration. Sign up or log in to your free WellRx account to gain access to this and other tools to help make managing your medications and wellness easier.

Benefits Include:

Store & manage your medication list
Medication pricing updates
Import medication from your pharmacy
Medication information & videos
Pill & refill reminders
Medication journal & mood log
Ask a Pharmacist

Sign up to use Medicine Chest

Create A Free Account To Use this feature

This feature requires registration. Sign up or log in to your free WellRx account to gain access to this and other tools to help make managing your medications and wellness easier.

Benefits Include:

Store & manage your medication list
Medication pricing updates
Import medication from your pharmacy
Medication information & videos
Pill & refill reminders
Medication journal & mood log
Ask a Pharmacist

Sign up to use this feature

You will be redirected to your program in 5 seconds.

Hi there.

Our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy have recently been updated.

Learn More


I Accept

By declining you will be logged out of your account