diphenoxylate/atropine is a combination medication used to treat diarrhea. It works by slowing down the movement of the intestines, which reduces the frequency and urgency of bowel movements and helps to relieve diarrhea symptoms. The medication contains two active ingredients: diphenoxylate and atropine.
diphenoxylate is an opioid agonist that acts on the mu-opioid receptors in the gastrointestinal tract. It works by slowing down the motility of the intestines, reducing the amount of fluid and electrolytes lost through the bowel movements, and improving the consistency of stools. diphenoxylate is structurally like the narcotic pain medication meperidine (Demerol) but has a much lower potential for abuse.
atropine is added to the formulation to discourage misuse of diphenoxylate, as it can cause unpleasant side effects such as dry mouth, blurred vision, and urinary retention. Atropine also has some antidiarrheal effects on its own, as it reduces intestinal motility and secretions and can help to relieve cramps and spasms.
The combination of diphenoxylate and atropine has a broad spectrum of activity against different types of diarrhea, including acute and chronic diarrhea caused by infectious, inflammatory, or functional disorders. However, it is not recommended for use in patients with bacterial infections or other specific causes of diarrhea, as it may interfere with the elimination of the infectious agent and delay the resolution of the infection.