Doctor’s desk: Nigerians should stop using tetracycline and flagyl for diarrhoea, stomach discomfort, etc

Stop self medication

Really it’s very bad to use antibiotics this way. Tetracycline and flagyl (metronidazole) are antibiotics and they should only be used when prescribed by doctors.

If you have a running stomach, what you can buy over the counter to relieve it are antimotility drugs.

Antimotility drugs are medications taken to stop frequent or watery stool as in cases of diarrhoea disease.
One common antimotility you can get in town easily is loperamide.

Loperamide comes in 2mg capsules, take two 2mg capsules at first then one tablet after each episode of loose stool, adults can take maximum of up to 8 capsules in 24hrs, don’t give loperamide to children without a doctor’s consent. You should go through the leaflet that comes with the medication for more instructions.

Loperamide works by reducing the volume and frequency of stooling by slowing down the activities of muscles in your gut, this way more water is absorbed in the body and the stool becomes firmer.

Why not antibiotics?

Treatment of the common diarrhoea does not need antibiotics. This is because most cases of infective diarrhoea are caused by viruses and the symptoms will resolve whether or not you take drugs after a couple of days.

Moreover you will be unnecessarily exposing yourself to the side effects of antibiotics if you are using them without prescription.

Diarrhoea lasts for about 5 to 7 days in children, rarely gets to the second week.

In adults the diarrhoea resolves after 2 to 4 days ,rarely persists for a week or two.

If you use antibiotics when not needed, you expose yourself and the community to the risk of antibiotics resistance.

What is antibiotics resistance?
This is a situation where antibiotics prescribed to treat bacterial infections fail to work because the organisms have been exposed to suboptimal doses of the medication or people have been using the drugs indiscriminately when the drug is not needed such as prescribing flagyl or tetracycline for yourself when you have diarrhoea. The danger is that when more serious illnesses occur and you actually need the antibiotics, the drug would not work because it’s been abused.

Other home remedies for diarrhoea
• Take enough water to replace water lost in stool

• Buy oral rehydration solutions (ORS) from a near by pharmacy or drug store and follow the instructions, ORS replaces glucose, salts and other vital nutrients that may be lost in stool

• Take pain relievers like paracetamol and ibruprofen for abdominal pains.

• Continue to feed your baby with breast milk or infant feeds to prevent dehydration

• Watch out for signs of dehydration in children and elderly people with diarrhoea

• Contact ajipe’s doctors through our contact page for advice and directions.

I used tetracycline and flagyl and the diarrhoea stopped…

Well it was merely a coincidence, it wasn’t the antibiotics that stopped the stool.
As mentioned above most cases of infective diarrhoea will resolve after a couple of days with or without medications.

Is there a role for antibiotics in diarhoea treatment?

Yes, doctors prescribe antibiotics for diarrhoea when there is need such as:
• When there’s blood in the stool
• Diarrhoea that comes with fever
• Immunocompromised persons
• After a stool test that shows there’s bacteria in the stool

Apart from the short term diarrhoea caused by viruses that is discussed here, there are other causes of diarrhoea.

The bottom line is if you are having watery stools, get loperamide instead of tetracycline or flagyl.

Author: Faisol Oladosu

Faisol - founder of

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