Also called loperamide, Imodium is the common name for a go-to treatment for diarrhoea, in particular sudden diarrhoea. When the time comes for Imodium, you’ll probably need it to work as quickly as possible. So if you’re wondering how long it takes to feel the benefits, then read on.
Diarrhoea is a very common condition and not usually a cause for concern here in the UK. The most common cause is gastroenteritis. People often suffer diarrhoea when travelling abroad when they are exposed to food they are not used to eating. It can also be the result of stress, allergies, medication or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Diarrhoea occurs when the cells in your small intestine or colon become irritated, which increases the movements in your intestines. This causes fluids and salts to be passed through the colon far too quickly to be absorbed. As more fluid stays in your intestine as the food travels through, it results in watery, more frequent bowel movements.
Imodium slows down the movement of digested food through the colon. This helps your body absorb more of the water through your intestines, making your stool firmer and ensuring you don’t have to go to the toilet as often.
The medicine aims to improve your symptoms in under an hour. Bear in mind however that Imodium will be most effective roughly 16 - 24 hours after you first take it.
Depending on the cause of your diarrhoea, it may take 2 to 4 days for your diarrhoea to subside. In most cases, Imodium can bring relief from diarrhoea within 48 hours.
Imodium comes in various forms, including:
If you are unsure as to which form is right for you, talk to a pharmacist about your symptoms, and they should be able to help you make the right decision.
Some supermarkets and pharmacies sell in-house brands of loperamide capsules, commonly referred to as "anti-diarrhoeal" or "diarrhoea relief" on the label.
Some products even contain the term "IBS" to tell that customers that they can be used in diarrhoea resulting from irritable bowl syndrome. However, products without IBS in their name can also be used by people with IBS.
According to the NHS, here are some things to think about when taking Imodium:
Try not to make a habit of taking Imodium as it won't address the root cause of your sudden bowel disturbances. Once you have gained control of your bowel movements, look for the reason why you have diarrhoea in the first place, and tackle it head-on.
Do not take Imodium for more than 48 hours without speaking to a doctor, if you initially bought it to treat short-term diarrhoea. Most cases of diarrhoea will improve within a week. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms of diarrhoea haven't improved in 7 days. After this time, it's important to begin to treat the effects of diarrhoea, such as dehydration.
Try not to take more than the recommended dose. Although it is unlikely that you will be affected by taking an additional dose of Imodium, greater doses can cause severe heart problems and can even lead to a rapid or uneven heartbeat (tachycardia). If you're concerned that you may have taken too much, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.