It is common for those with celiac disease to turn to over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription loperamide (brand name: Imodium) for short-term treatment of diarrhea. The FDA has recently issued a warning that overuse of this medication can lead to serious cardiac issues, and even death.
Users of loperamide are encouraged to adhere to recommended dosages (no more than 8mg daily for OTC use) and to contact a doctor if diarrhea persists for more than two days. Emergency Services should be contacted immediately if any of the following occur in someone known to be taking loperamide:
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Unresponsiveness or inability to be awoken
Should I take Imodium if I have celiac disease?
According to Dr. Sonia Kupfer, CDF Research Committee member and gastroenterologist with the Celiac Center at the University of Chicago, “…this medication can be helpful for symptoms related to accidental gluten exposure or microscopic colitis. You should also ask your health care provider or pharmacist about possible drug interactions with Imodium before taking this medication. The bottom line is that using Imodium as directed is safe and can improve distressing symptoms in patients with celiac disease.”