Friday, May 22, 2015

Drug-induced diarrhea

Table of Contents


Drug-induced diarrhea is loose, watery stools caused by certain medications.

See also: Diarrhea

Alternative Names

Diarrhea associated with medications

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

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


  • Laxatives are meant to cause diarrhea by drawing water into the intestines or triggering muscle spasms in the intestines.
  • Taking too much of a laxative can cause diarrhea.

Antacids and heartburn medications:

  • Antacids that contain magnesium may also cause or worsen diarrhea.
  • Drugs used to treat heartburn and stomach ulcers can cause diarrhea, including: (omeprazole (Prilosec), esomeprazole (Nexium), iansoprazole (Prevacid), rabeprazole (AcipHex), and pantoprazole (Protonix), (Pepsid), cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), and nizatidine (Axid)


  • Antibiotics destroy normal bacteria in the intestines, which can lead to diarrhea.
  • Some antibiotics allow a type of bacteria called Clostridium difficile to over grow. This can lead to infection and produce a severe, watery form of diarrhea called pseudomembranous colitis.

Other medications and products that commonly cause diarrhea include:

  • Chemotherapy medications
  • Medications that suppress the immune system (such as mycophenolate)
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to treat pain and arthritis, including ibuprofen
  • Herbal teas that contain senna
  • Certain vitamins, minerals, and other supplements

Review Date: 01/10/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (