Is Lomotil Safe to Take for Diarrhea?

Doctor writing a prescription.
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What Is Lomotil?

Lomotil (diphenoxylate) is a medication used to treat diarrhea. It's an oral medication available in tablet or liquid form. Lomotil is designed for short-term use only, as it runs the risk of becoming habit-forming. In rare cases, Lomotil may be prescribed for long-term use, but only under close supervision by a physician.

How Does Lomotil Work?

Lomotil is made up of two separate ingredients, diphenoxylate and atropine.

Diphenoxylate, the primary ingredient in Lomotil, is a narcotic and therefore carries the risk of dependence. Diphenoxlyate works to slow colonic motility, which allows for more liquid to be drawn from the stool, firming it up and thus relieving diarrhea symptoms. A small dose of atropine, an anticholinergic medication, is included in Lomotil in order to reduce the likelihood of abuse, as higher doses of atropine cause unpleasant physical symptoms.

Lomotil is sold under the following brand names:

  • Lofene
  • Logen
  • Lomanate
  • Lomocot
  • Lomotil
  • Lonox
  • Vi-Atro

Safe Usage of Lomotil

Before taking Lomotil, make sure that you inform your doctor of any co-existing medical conditions and that they are aware of any other medications that you may be taking.

While taking Lomotil:

  • Be sure to follow dosing instructions carefully.
  • Drink plentiful amounts of water.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery, as Lomotil can cause drowsiness.
  • If there is no improvement in your symptoms in two days, call your doctor.
  • The medication may cause dryness in your mouth. In addition to drinking plenty of water, sucking on hard candies may be helpful.

Side Effects of Lomotil

If you experience any of the following side effects or any other severe, unexpected symptom, seek medical help immediately:

  • Allergic reactions, such as hives or skin rash, or swelling of face, lips or tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting

Who Should Not Take Lomotil

Do not take Lomotil for any diarrhea caused by a bacterial infection, such as C. diff, salmonella, or  E coli or any other time you are experiencing fever or see blood in your bowel movements.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your doctor before taking Lomotil.

Children appear to be most at risk for Lomotil overdose and therefore the medication should never be given to a child under the age of 12. In addition, Lomotil should never be given to a child of any age unless it is under the supervision of a doctor.

People who are elderly are more likely to experience potentially dangerous side effects and so also should only be given Lomotil under the supervision of a physician.

Is Lomotil Safe for IBS?:

Lomotil appears to be best used as a short-term treatment for diarrhea. Due to risk of dependency, Lomotil should only be used as an ongoing treatment with doctor supervision.

As diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D) is a chronic condition, it may be best to pursue alternative treatment options for diarrhea.

Sources:

"Lomotil overdose" Medline Plus Accessed January 12, 2016.

"Diphenoxylate And Atropine" Mayo Clinic Accessed January 12, 2016.

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