Difenoxin and atropine (Oral)
Generic Name: atropine/difenoxin (dye-fen-OX-in hye-droe-KLOR-ide, AT-roe-peen SUL-fate)
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on April 15, 2021.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antidiarrheal
Pharmacologic Class: Atropine
Chemical Class: Difenoxin
Uses for difenoxin and atropine
Difenoxin and atropine combination medicine is used along with other measures to treat severe diarrhea in adults. Difenoxin helps stop diarrhea by slowing down the movements of the intestines.
Since difenoxin is chemically related to some narcotics, it may be habit-forming if taken in doses that are larger than prescribed. To help prevent possible abuse, atropine (an anticholinergic) has been added. If higher-than-normal doses of the combination are taken, the atropine will cause unpleasant effects, making it unlikely that such doses will be taken again.
Difenoxin and atropine combination medicine should not be used in children. Children with diarrhea should be given solutions of carbohydrates (sugars) and electrolytes (important salts) to replace the water and important salts that are lost from the body during diarrhea.
Difenoxin and atropine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using difenoxin and atropine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For difenoxin and atropine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to difenoxin and atropine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Difenoxin and atropine should not be used in children. Children, especially very young children, are very sensitive to the effects of difenoxin and atropine. This may increase the chance of side effects during treatment. Also, the fluid loss caused by diarrhea may result in a severe condition. For this reason, it is very important that a sufficient amount of liquids be given to replace the fluid lost by the body. If you have any questions about this, check with your health care professional.
Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing may be more likely to occur in elderly patients, who are usually more sensitive than younger adults to the effects of difenoxin. Also, the fluid loss caused by diarrhea may result in a severe condition. For this reason, elderly persons should not take difenoxin and atropine without first checking with their doctor. It is also very important that a sufficient amount of liquids be taken to replace the fluid lost by the body. If you have any questions about this, check with your health care professional.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking difenoxin and atropine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using difenoxin and atropine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using difenoxin and atropine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Calcium Oxybate
- Gabapentin Enacarbil
- Glycopyrronium Tosylate
- Magnesium Oxybate
- Methylene Blue
- Morphine Sulfate Liposome
- Potassium Oxybate
- Secretin Human
- Sodium Oxybate
Using difenoxin and atropine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of difenoxin and atropine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Alcohol abuse (or history of) or
- Drug abuse (history of)—There is a greater chance that difenoxin and atropine may become habit-forming
- Colitis (severe)—A more serious problem of the colon may develop if you use difenoxin and atropine
- Down's syndrome—Side effects may be more likely and severe in these patients
- Dysentery—This condition may get worse; a different kind of treatment may be needed
- Emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, or other chronic lung disease—There is a greater chance that difenoxin and atropine may cause breathing problems in patients who have any of these conditions
- Enlarged prostate or
- Urinary tract blockage or difficult urination—Problems with urination may develop with the use of difenoxin and atropine
- Gallbladder disease or gallstones—Use of difenoxin and atropine may cause spasms of the biliary tract and make the condition worse
- Glaucoma—Severe pain in the eye may occur with the use of difenoxin and atropine; however, the chance of this happening is low
- Heart disease—Difenoxin and atropine may have some effects on the heart, which may make the condition worse
- Hiatal hernia—The atropine in difenoxin and atropine may make this condition worse; however, the chance of this happening is low
- High blood pressure (hypertension)—The atropine in difenoxin and atropine may cause an increase in blood pressure; however, the chance of this happening is low
- Intestinal blockage—Difenoxin and atropine may make the condition worse
- Kidney disease—The atropine in difenoxin and atropine may build up in the body and cause side effects
- Liver disease—The chance of central nervous system (CNS) side effects, including coma, may be greater in patients who have this condition
- Myasthenia gravis—Difenoxin and atropine may make the condition worse
- Overactive or underactive thyroid—Unwanted effects on breathing and heart rate may occur
- Overflow incontinence—Difenoxin and atropine may make the condition worse
Proper use of difenoxin and atropine
If difenoxin and atropine upsets your stomach, your doctor may want you to take it with food.
Take difenoxin and atropine only as directed by your doctor . Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. If too much is taken, it may become habit-forming.
Importance of diet and fluids while treating diarrhea:
- In addition to using medicine for diarrhea, it is very important that you replace the fluid lost by the body and follow a proper diet. For the first 24 hours you should eat gelatin and drink plenty of caffeine-free clear liquids, such as ginger ale, decaffeinated cola, decaffeinated tea, and broth. During the next 24 hours you may eat bland foods, such as cooked cereals, bread, crackers, and applesauce. Fruits, vegetables, fried or spicy foods, bran, candy, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages may make the condition worse.
- If too much fluid has been lost by the body due to the diarrhea a serious condition may develop. Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following symptoms of too much fluid loss occur:
- Decreased urination
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Dryness of mouth
- Increased thirst
- Wrinkled skin
The dose of difenoxin and atropine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of difenoxin and atropine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage form (tablets):
- For severe diarrhea:
- Adults and teenagers—The first dose is usually 2 milligrams (mg). After that, the dose is 1 mg taken after each loose stool or every three or four hours as needed. Do not take more than 8 mg in any twenty-four-hour period.
- Children—Use is not recommended.
- For severe diarrhea:
If you miss a dose of difenoxin and atropine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Precautions while using difenoxin and atropine
Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits if you will be taking difenoxin and atropine regularly for a long time.
Check with your doctor if your diarrhea does not stop after 2 days or if you develop a fever.
Difenoxin and atropine will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (medicines that slow down the nervous system, possibly causing drowsiness). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for hay fever, other allergies, or colds; sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine; prescription pain medicine or narcotics; barbiturates; medicine for seizures; muscle relaxants; or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the above while you are taking difenoxin and atropine.
If you think you or someone else in your home may have taken an overdose of difenoxin and atropine, get emergency help at once. Taking an overdose of difenoxin and atropine may lead to unconsciousness and possibly death. Symptoms of overdose include severe drowsiness; fast heartbeat; shortness of breath or troubled breathing; and unusual warmth, dryness, and flushing of skin.
Before having any kind of surgery (including dental surgery) or emergency treatment, tell the medical doctor or dentist in charge that you are using difenoxin and atropine.
Difenoxin and atropine may cause some people to become dizzy, drowsy, or less alert than they are normally. Even if taken at bedtime, it may cause some people to feel drowsy or less alert on arising. Make sure you know how you react to difenoxin and atropine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or are not alert.
Difenoxin and atropine side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- loss of appetite
- stomach pain (severe) with nausea and vomiting
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
- Blurred vision (continuing) or changes in near vision
- drowsiness (severe)
- dryness of mouth, nose, and throat (severe)
- fast heartbeat
- shortness of breath or troubled breathing (severe)
- unusual excitement, nervousness, restlessness, or irritability
- unusual warmth, dryness, and flushing of skin
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
Less common or rare
- Blurred vision
- difficult urination
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- dryness of skin and mouth
- trouble in sleeping
- unusual tiredness or weakness
After you stop using difenoxin and atropine, it may still produce some side effects that need attention. During this period of time, check with your doctor immediately if you notice the following side effects:
- Increased sweating
- muscle cramps
- nausea or vomiting
- shivering or trembling
- stomach cramps
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about atropine / difenoxin
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- 3 Reviews
- Drug class: antidiarrheals
- Other brands
Related treatment guides
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.