As suddenly as diarrhea sets your schedule awry, it doesn't leave on its own accord and most often, people resort to taking generic or over-the-counter medications for temporary relief before consulting a doctor. Loperamide hydrochloride is the chief ingredient of most of these quick-fix diarrhea medications. Let's see what it is and what it does.
What is Loperamide Hydrochloride?
Loperamide is a synthetic compound that is chemically derived from piperidine, the latter being an organic (carbon based) compound. It appears as a powdery substance, whose color is white with slightly yellowish undertones. This compound is partially soluble in water, however, dissolves completely in isopropyl alcohol, chloroform, and methanol. Loperamide hydrochloride tablets and capsules for treating diarrhea usually contain 2 mg of this compound.
The mechanism of action followed by this compound is to slow down intra-intestinal activity, so that, the intestinal walls get more time to absorb water and nutrients. This causes lesser liquids and electrolytes to escape the body via excretion, thereby, arresting frequent bowel movements. However, the process is gradual, as the drug takes some time to completely take control of the momentum of intestinal activities. It might take as long as 48 hours to completely relieve diarrhea symptoms.
This compound is most effecting against idiopathic diarrhea, gastroenteritis induced diarrhea, or diarrhea caused as a result of inflammatory bowel disease. It may be administered to people suffering from mild travelers' diarrhea, including those adults in whom, such diarrhea occurs as a result of HIV infection. It, however, does nothing to prevent traveler's diarrhea and is not advised for individuals suffering from severe diarrhea symptoms that are accompanied by the presence of blood in stool, and high fever.
Although, it is not advisable to administer loperamide hydrochloride based medication to children, oral solutions, prescribed by a registered medical practitioner, may be administered in strictly measured doses in rigid accordance with the doctor's prescription. Under no circumstances should children below 2 years of age be administered the medications containing this compound.
Children between 6-8 years of age, may be given 2 mg twice a day and those between 8-12 years, may be given 2 mg thrice a day. However, besides age, the body weight of the child is also a decisive factor for determining the dose and frequency of administration. Adults, who are under loperamide hydrochloride medication, should drink lots of fluids and increase their electrolyte intake.
The medication should not be diluted or mixed with any solvent whatsoever before or for the purpose of intake. This drug should be discontinued, if the diarrhea symptoms persist beyond 48 hours of starting such medication. Children between 2-5 years of age are usually administered not more than 1 mg thrice daily.
Although easily and generically available, loperamide hydrochloride is a potent drug and may have adverse side effects if overused or unnecessarily ingested. It must never be given to patients complaining of abdominal pain but no diarrhea. Also, some individuals may exhibit symptoms of hypersensitivity towards this compound when taken as a medication.
Administration of medications with this chief chemical component, is also strictly prohibited in individuals with acute dysentery, acute ulcerative colitis, pseudomembranous colitis, and bacterial enterocolitis. It is advisable that this chemical component be considered as a temporary symptomatic treatment rather than a chronic diarrhea medication. Consulting a doctor and following the prescribed course of treatment is the best way to get rid of the root cause.