Action: Antidiarrheals work by various actions, including direct action on intestinal muscles to decrease GI peristalsis; by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis responsible for GI hypermotility; by acting on mucosal receptors responsible for peristalsis; or by decreasing water content of stools.

Uses: Antidiarrheals are used for diarrhea of undetermined causes.

Side effects / Adverse reactions: The most serious adverse reactions of some products are paralytic ileus, toxic megacolon, and angioneurotic edema. The most common side effects are constipation, dry mouth, and abdominal pain.

Contraindications: Persons with severe ulcerative colitis, pseudomembranous colitis with some products.

Precautions: Antidiarrheal shoul be used with caution in the elderly, pregnancy, lactation, children, dehydration.

Interactions: Please check individual monographs, since interactions vary widely among products.

Possible nursing diagnoses:
» Diarrhea [uses]
» Constipation [adverse reactions]
» Fluid volume deficit [adverse reactions]
» Knowledge deficit [teaching]

Nursing Considerations

» Electrolytes (K, Na, Cl) if on long-term therapy
» Bowel pattern before; for rebound constipation adter termination of medication
» Response after 48 hours; if no response, drug should be discontinued
» Dehydration in children

» For 48 hours only

» Therapeutic response: decreased diarrhea

Teach patient/family:
» To avoid OTC products
» Not to exceed recommended dose

Selected Generic Names

Bismuth subsalicylate
Opium tincture

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