Drug-induced diarrhea

Definition

Drug-induced diarrhea is loose, watery stools that occurs when you take certain medicines.

Alternative Names

Diarrhea associated with medicines

Causes

Nearly all medicines may cause diarrhea as a side effect. The drugs listed below, however, are more likely to cause diarrhea.

Laxatives are meant to cause diarrhea.

Antacids that have magnesium in them may also cause diarrhea or make it worse.

Antibiotics also can produce diarrhea.

Many other drugs may cause diarrhea:

Some herbal teas contain senna or other "natural" laxatives that can cause diarrhea. Other vitamins, minerals, or supplements may also cause diarrhea.

Prevention

To prevent diarrhea due to antibiotic use, talk to your health care provider about taking supplements containing healthy bacteria (probiotics) and/or eating yogurt. Some of these products may reduce the risk for diarrhea. Keep taking these supplements for a few days after you finish your antibiotics.

References

Schiller LR, Sellin JH. Diarrhea. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 16.

Seller RH, Symons AB. Diarrhea. In: Seller RH, Symons AB, eds. Differential Diagnosis of Common Complaints. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 10.

Siddiqi HA, Rabinowitz S, Axiotis CA. Laboratory diagnosis of gastrointestinal and pancreatic disorders. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 23.


Review Date: 10/26/2021
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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