Non-prescription drugs for diarrhea: Tiorfan, Smecta?

Medicines for transient diarrhea are available without a prescription in pharmacies. They relieve this symptom. Which ones to choose for adults or children? List, contraindications and precautions for use with Dr Monique Quillard, general practitioner.

When the diarrhea occurs, one of the first reflexes is to take medication to quickly stop this symptom. However, the French health authorities insist on the fact that the management of acute diarrhea is based above all on lifestyle and dietary measures and that if the symptoms persist in infants and children under 2 years of age, the reference treatment is the administration of oral rehydration solution (ORS). ORS are sachets of powder to be poured into a bottle of water, available in pharmacies without a prescription. the Smecta®, drug available without a prescription and indicated in case of diarrhea no longer recommended for children under 2 years of age “because of the possible presence of a tiny amount of lead, even if the treatment is short-lived” explained theANSM in 2021. As of 2019, nifuroxazide (Ercefuryl® and its generics) should no longer be given to children and adolescents under the age of 18 due to immuno-allergic effects (anaphylactic shock, angioedema). This medicine has since been issued by prescription only.

Trade name: Diaretyl®

  • Molecule: Loperamide Hydrochloride
  • Indication: speed bumps transit
  • Form: capsule

Trade name: Diastrolib 2 mg®

  • Molecule: Loperamide Hydrochloride
  • Indication: transit speed bumps
  • Form: capsule

Trade name: Imodium®

  • Molecule: Loperamide
  • Indication: transit speed bumps
  • Form: capsule

Trade name: Smecta® orange and vanilla flavors (for children over 2 years old)

  • Molecule: diosmectite
  • Indication: clay-based dressings
  • Form: in oral solution

Trade name: Ultralevure® (from 6 years old) – In the same category of antidiarrheal microorganisms can be used Lacteol® and Lenia®

  • Molecule: Saccharomyces boulardii
  • Indication: adjunctive treatment of occasional mild to moderate diarrhea
  • Form: powder

Tiorfan® is only available on prescription.

These treatments should not be taken more than two days without medical advice. Smecta® should not be used in children under 2 years old.

Instead, choose drugs that contain only one active substance

These treatments should be taken in case of diarrhoea, i.e.emission of more than three stools during the dayfrom very soft to liquid consistency per day“, specifies Dr. Monique Quillard, general practitioner. The choice of a drug varies according to the state of health of each person (pregnancy, current treatment, etc.) as well as the precautions specific to each family of drugs. In general, it is recommended to choose rather drugs containing only one active substance and, of course, to respect the dose, the frequency of intake and the recommended duration of treatment which is 2 days in the case transient diarrhea in adults. Never take a prolonged treatment without medical advice. Finally, transit speed bumps are contraindicated in the event of bloody diarrhea or high fever“, says Dr. Quillard.

These medicines should not be used in case of:

  • Diarrhea due to medication, e.g. antibiotics
  • Diarrhea with high fever, blood or mucus in the stool

A doctor should be consulted when diarrhea lasts for more than two days and is accompanied by fever and/or blood in the stool. “If it occurs in a child or an elderly person, consult without delay because they become dehydrated very quickly.“, recommends Dr. Quillard. Moreover, taking medication does not dispense with rehydration and an appropriate diet.

Thanks to Dr Monique Quillard, general practitioner.

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