Absorbents, anti-motility medications, and bismuth compounds are used as diarrhea treatments. Additionally, antibiotics may be prescribed for treating diarrhea that is persistent or severe, caused by parasites or serious bacterial infections, or occurs in patients with additional debilitating diseases, such as heart failure, states MedicineNet.
Orally taken absorbents treat diarrhea by making stools less watery by binding water in the small intestine and colon. Attapulgite and polycarbophil are commonly used absorbents for treating diarrhea and are available without prescriptions, according to MedicineNet.
Anti-motility medications work by relaxing the muscles of the small intestine and colon to cause a slower flow of intestinal contents. A longer transit time allows more time for water to be absorbed from the intestine and colon and reduces the stool’s water content, reports MedicineNet.
Bismuth compounds contain bismuth and salicylate, and they may have antibiotic-like properties that affect the bacteria that cause diarrhea. Additionally, salicylate is anti-inflammatory, potentially causing a reduction in the secretion of water in the intestine, explains MedicineNet.