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Maalox Anti-Diarrheal (Generic Loperamide)

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While loperamide is generally considered safe when used as directed for the short-term relief of acute diarrhea, there are risks associated with its use, especially when misused or taken in excessive amounts. Here’s a brief overview of the risks:

  • Cardiac Risks: High doses of loperamide can lead to serious cardiac events, including arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), QT interval prolongation, and torsades de pointes (a life-threatening heart rhythm disorder). These effects are more likely to occur when loperamide is taken in doses exceeding the recommended amounts.
  • Central Nervous System (CNS) Effects: Loperamide can cross the blood-brain barrier in high doses, potentially leading to central nervous system toxicity. This can cause symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, and altered mental status.
  • Abuse Potential: Loperamide has been misused by some individuals seeking opioid-like effects. Taking extremely high doses in an attempt to achieve a euphoric effect can lead to serious health consequences.
  • Interactions with Other Medications: Loperamide may interact with certain medications, increasing the risk of adverse effects or reducing the effectiveness of other drugs. It’s essential to inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are taking.
  • Masking Underlying Conditions: Loperamide can temporarily alleviate diarrhea symptoms, but it does not treat the underlying cause. Using it without addressing the root cause of diarrhea may delay the diagnosis and treatment of potentially serious conditions.
  • Dehydration: Loperamide works by slowing down bowel movements, which can lead to an increased risk of dehydration if fluids are not adequately replaced. It’s crucial to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids while using loperamide.
  • Not Suitable for Certain Types of Diarrhea: Loperamide is not recommended for the treatment of diarrhea caused by bacterial infections or inflammatory conditions. In such cases, it may be essential to address the underlying cause with appropriate medical intervention.

It’s important to use loperamide as directed by a healthcare professional and to seek medical attention if diarrhea persists or worsens. Never exceed the recommended dosage, and do not use loperamide for extended periods without medical supervision. If you experience any unusual or severe symptoms while taking loperamide, seek prompt medical attention.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Loperamide is a medication commonly used to treat diarrhea. It is an antidiarrheal agent that works by slowing down the movement of the intestines, which helps to reduce the frequency and urgency of bowel movements. Loperamide is often used to manage acute diarrhea and chronic diarrhea associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

How should this medicine be used?

Here are some general guidelines on how loperamide is typically used:

  • Dosage: The recommended initial dose for adults is often 4 mg (two capsules or tablets) followed by 2 mg (one capsule or tablet) after each loose stool. The maximum daily dose for adults is usually 16 mg.
  • Usage for Acute Diarrhea: Loperamide is commonly used to treat acute diarrhea, which is often a symptom of infections or gastrointestinal disturbances. It is important to follow the recommended dosage and not exceed the maximum daily dose unless directed by a healthcare professional.
  • Chronic Diarrhea (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS): For chronic diarrhea associated with conditions like IBS, the dosage may be adjusted based on the individual’s response to the medication. It is crucial to follow the healthcare provider’s instructions and report any changes in symptoms.
  • Use in Children: Loperamide can be used in children, but the dosage will be adjusted based on the child’s age and weight. It is important to follow pediatric-specific dosing guidelines and consult with a healthcare professional.
  • Hydration: It is important to stay well-hydrated while taking loperamide, especially if diarrhea is causing fluid loss. Rehydration solutions may be recommended.
  • Caution: Loperamide is generally safe when used as directed, but it should not be used in certain situations, such as when there is a risk of bacterial infection or colitis. Individuals with a history of liver disease should use loperamide with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
  • Duration of Use: Loperamide is typically used for a short duration to manage acute symptoms. If diarrhea persists, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional.

It’s essential to note that these are general guidelines, and the specific instructions for loperamide use may vary based on the individual’s health, the underlying cause of diarrhea, and other factors. Always follow the advice and recommendations of your healthcare provider when using any medication.

Other uses for this medicine

While loperamide is primarily used to manage diarrhea, it is not typically prescribed for other conditions. It is not effective in treating the underlying causes of diarrhea, such as infections. The use of loperamide for conditions other than diarrhea should be under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

What special precautions should I follow?

Special Precautions:

  • Medical Conditions: Inform your healthcare provider if you have any underlying medical conditions, especially liver problems, as loperamide is metabolized by the liver.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your healthcare provider before using loperamide.
  • Children and Elderly: Use caution in children, and the dosage may need adjustment based on their age and weight. The use of loperamide in the elderly should also be approached with caution.
  • Drug Interactions: Inform your healthcare provider about all medications, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, that you are currently taking, as loperamide may interact with certain medications.
  • Allergies: If you are allergic to loperamide or any of its ingredients, inform your healthcare provider.
  • Dehydration: Loperamide can contribute to dehydration, so it’s important to stay well-hydrated, especially if you are experiencing diarrhea.
  • Fever or Blood in Stools: If you develop a fever or notice blood in your stools while taking loperamide, seek medical attention promptly.
  • Avoid Overuse: Loperamide is not intended for long-term use without medical supervision. Chronic use without addressing the underlying cause of diarrhea may lead to complications.
  • Not for Certain Types of Diarrhea: Loperamide should not be used in cases of diarrhea caused by certain bacterial or infectious agents. If the diarrhea is associated with a bacterial infection, it’s essential to treat the underlying infection with appropriate antibiotics.

Always follow the specific guidance provided by your healthcare provider and the instructions on the medication label. If you have any concerns or experience side effects, contact your healthcare professional promptly. The information provided here is not exhaustive, and individual circumstances may warrant different precautions or considerations.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

There are no specific dietary restrictions associated with loperamide. However, it’s essential to stay hydrated, especially when experiencing diarrhea. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you forget to take a dose of loperamide:

  • Take it as soon as you remember.
  • If it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose.
  • Do not double up on doses to make up for a missed one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Loperamide is generally considered safe when used as directed, but like any medication, it can cause side effects. Common side effects of loperamide may include:

  • Constipation: Loperamide works by slowing down bowel movements, and constipation can be a common side effect. It’s important to balance the antidiarrheal effects with the potential for constipation.
  • Nausea or Vomiting: Some people may experience nausea or vomiting, although this is less common.
  • Abdominal Cramps or Pain: Discomfort in the abdominal area can occur as a side effect.
  • Bloating: Loperamide may cause a feeling of fullness or bloating in the stomach.
  • Dizziness: In some cases, lightheadedness or dizziness may occur.
  • Dry Mouth: Loperamide might cause a dry mouth, so it’s important to stay well-hydrated.
  • Fatigue: Some individuals may experience fatigue or tiredness.
  • Headache: Headaches have been reported as a possible side effect.
  • Skin Rash: Although rare, allergic reactions can occur, leading to skin rashes. If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction, such as rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

It’s important to use loperamide as directed by your healthcare provider and to be aware of any potential side effects. If you experience severe or persistent side effects, contact your healthcare professional. Additionally, if you have any concerns about the use of loperamide, consult with your healthcare provider before continuing or adjusting your dosage.

It’s worth noting that high doses of loperamide, especially when not used as directed, can lead to serious heart problems. Some individuals have misused loperamide in an attempt to achieve opioid-like effects, and this misuse can lead to serious health consequences. Always use loperamide according to the recommended dosage and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Storage and Disposal of Loperamide:

  • Storage: Keep loperamide in its original packaging or container. Store it at room temperature, away from excessive heat, moisture, and light. Follow any specific storage instructions provided by your pharmacist or healthcare provider.
  • Keep Out of Reach of Children: Store medications out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental ingestion.
  • Disposal: Dispose of loperamide properly according to local regulations. Do not flush it down the toilet unless instructed to do so. Check with your pharmacist or local waste disposal facility for guidelines on how to dispose of unused or expired medications.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of emergency or overdose, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of loperamide overdose may include severe constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, and an inability to pass stool and gas.

What other information should I know?

  • Follow Instructions: Take loperamide exactly as directed by your healthcare provider. Do not adjust the dosage without consulting them.
  • Inform Healthcare Provider: Inform your healthcare provider about any other medications, supplements, or medical conditions you have before starting loperamide.
  • Hydration: Stay well-hydrated, especially if you are experiencing diarrhea. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Limit or avoid alcohol consumption while taking loperamide, as it can increase the risk of certain side effects.
  • Side Effects: Be aware of potential side effects such as constipation, dizziness, and drowsiness. If you experience severe or persistent side effects, contact your healthcare provider.
  • Regular Monitoring: If loperamide is prescribed for an ongoing condition, your healthcare provider may want to monitor your progress and may order periodic laboratory tests.
  • Allergic Reactions: Seek medical attention immediately if you experience symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face/tongue/throat, or severe dizziness.

Always consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist for specific information tailored to your situation. They can provide guidance on the safe use, storage, and disposal of loperamide based on your individual health needs.

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