Drugs Q & A

Is Expired Imodium Safe to Take?

Imodium is a brand of Loperamide, a medication used to decrease the frequency of diarrhea. It is often used for this purpose in inflammatory bowel disease and short bowel syndrome. It is not recommended for those with blood in the stool, mucus in the stool, or fevers. Imodium typically starts to control diarrhea within 1 hour after you’ve taken the first dose.

When your digestive system becomes irritated, the normally steady and regular movement of the intestines can become overactive. The result is that salts and fluid are moved through too quickly and less is absorbed by the body. The result is loose or watery stools, otherwise known as diarrhoea.

How Imodium works

Imodium contains Loperamide – an ingredient that works to gently slow the digestive system into a normal rhythm. Your body can then absorb more fluids with less fluid in the intestines and leading to a normal stool consistency.

When you treat your diarrhoea with Imodium, it works with your body by gently slowing down your digestion to alleviate your discomfort. Imodium can take less than 1 hour to relieve diarrhoea, helping restore the rhythm of your digestive system. Imodium Plus Comfort which contains the additional ingredient simethicone, which helps to alleviate other symptoms that can accompany diarrhoea, including cramps, bloating and wind.

Can I take expired Imodium?

No, expired Imodium is less effective or risky due to a change in chemical composition or a decrease in strength. The expiration date is the final day that the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of a medication. Drug expiration dates exist on most medication labels, including prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) and dietary (herbal) supplements. U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers are required by law to place expiration dates on prescription products prior to marketing.

 Certain expired medications are at risk of bacterial growth and sub-potent antibiotics can fail to treat infections, leading to more serious illnesses and antibiotic resistance. Once the expiration date has passed there is no guarantee that the medicine will be safe and effective. If your Imodium has expired, do not use it. Even though some controversial studies indicate that some drugs can be used after expiry dates it is better to err on the side of caution in order not to complicate your health condition.

According to the DEA, many people don’t know how to properly clean out their medicine cabinets.  Failing to safely dispose of old medications, especially opioids, all too often leads to dangerous drugs ending up in the wrong hands. The CDC reports that 50,000 young children end up in emergency rooms each year because they got into medicines while an adult wasn’t looking.

Finally, expired medicines are also not just a risk to the person they were prescribed for and can injure children and pets if taken by mistake. For all these reasons, proper disposal of unneeded medicines is essential.

What to do with expired meds

First, read the medicine’s label and follow any specific disposal instructions that may be included. A drug take-back program, if available, is the preferred way to dispose of expired, unwanted, or unused medicine. For example, the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, coordinated by the DEA, addresses a vital public safety and public health issue by focusing attention on this important issue and reminding everyone to get rid of unneeded and outdated medicines. Through this important program, many tons of unneeded and out-date drugs have been removed for proper disposal.

When drug take-back programs aren’t available, federal guidelines recommend throwing the medicines away in the household trash after mixing them with a substance like dirt or kitty litter and then sealing the mixture in a container (see graphic at right). However, certain medicines are specifically recommended for flushing down a toilet or sink because they could be especially harmful, even fatal, to a child, pet, or anyone else if taken accidentally. For a list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing, as well as other information on proper disposal, please see the Disposal of Unused Medicines page.

A place for everything

Proper storage is one way to help make sure your medicines will remain safe and effective up to their expiration date. Be sure to read the label to see if there are specific storage instructions for your medicine. Certain medicines need to be stored in the refrigerator and others cannot be exposed to high temperatures. Improper storage – such as a damp bathroom cabinet – can contribute to decreased effectiveness in medicines that have not reached their posted expiration date. For most medicines, to help ensure the proper shelf life of your medicine, it is better to store medicine in a cool, dry place such as a dresser drawer, storage box, closet shelf, or kitchen cabinet.

When storing medicine in a kitchen cabinet, make sure that it is away from hot appliances and the sink due to changing temperatures and humidity which can affect the medicine. When storing medicine in a high traffic area like a kitchen, care should be taken to prevent access by children at risk of accidental poisoning or others who may be tempted to take for abuse/misuse.

Remember to store medicines properly and don’t use expired medicines, it’s not worth the risk! 

Imodium Safety Information

Imodium is a safe medication for most people. However, it should be used carefully. And in some cases, it should be avoided. The following warnings can help keep you safe.

Conditions of concern

Talk with your doctor before taking Imodium if you have any of the following conditions:

  • liver problems
  • AIDS with infectious colitis
  • ulcerative colitis
  • an intestinal bacterial infection
  • allergy to Imodium

Do not take more than the maximum daily dosage of Imodium. Also, do not take it longer than two days unless directed by your doctor to do so. You should see an improvement in your symptoms within two days. If you don’t, call your doctor. Your diarrhea may be caused by bacteria, a virus, or another cause. This may require treatment with a different medication.

Don’t take Imodium if you have blood in your stools or black stools. These symptoms likely mean there is a problem in your stomach or intestines. You should see your doctor.

Never take Imodium if you have abdominal pain without diarrhea. Imodium is not approved to treat abdominal pain without diarrhea. Depending on the cause of your pain, taking Imodium could make the pain worse.

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