When discussing survival, we often gravitate towards the bad-ass, like which knife to carry or the fashionably practical question of which tactical backpack is best. It’s fun, it’s interesting, no issues with that – so long as we aren’t completely ignoring the negative realities of survival – it’s dirty, it’s messy, and chances are, your bowels (I know, who wants to think about that) won’t be even remotely happy with the situation.
When travelling under duress/stress your body typically responds pretty badly to the food you encounter and encourage it to eat. Traveller’s diarrhea is a legitimately dangerous thing to have in emergency situations (diarrhea = dehydration), and yet it’s something very easily caused by contact with any sort of contaminated food or water, which can be loaded with nasties from Salmonella, to E. coli, Shigella, Giardia, as well as many others.
That’s bad enough, but considering the fact that you can also have pretty bad bowel problems as a consequence of adrenaline, fear, or stress, you’ll finally start to get a picture of how uncomfortable you may be as a result of a SHTF situation.
As I am sure you can imagine, a survival situation is positively loaded with stresses and unknowns – these bowel-related issues are just the icing on the top of the mud cake.
As I’ve already stated, besides the obvious discomfort diarrhea can bring, it also dehydrates you a considerable amount. The other outcomes of having diarrhea you would know if you’d even had it once – it seeps your energy and truly does negatively impair your mental faculties. It’s uncomfortable, incredibly dangerous if you don’t have clean water to replace what you just lost with, and just downright to be avoided in an already bad situation if it’s at all possible.
Imodium in Emergency/Survival Situations
I’m not exaggerating when I say this – if a disaster were to strike right this moment, besides assessing the situation, making sure my family is okay, grabbing my gear, and getting ready to bolt into action if necessary, I would 100% pre-emptively pop an Imodium.
I’ve had my share of difficult times with contaminated food (looking at you, AYCE Korean BBQ), as I’m sure we have all had from time to time, and I know just how foolish it is to let random chance or bad luck with food affect my survival when popping a single, over-the-counter pill can pre-emptively nip the chances of me having diarrhea in the bud.
For those of you who have no idea what the hell an Imodium is and why it seems to work such magic, Imodium (Loperamide) is a pill that works by slowing down your digestive system (gut movements) to an absurd degree. Practical applications – it makes stool altogether much less watery, even in the case of diarrhea, and also overall really decreases the number of bowel movements you would have to take – I’m talking a significant decrease here.
I am personally regular as clockwork (too much information?) but when I opt to pop an Imodium for peace of mind, I can attest that it shuts down my digestive system for a solid 48 hr period.
So back to the diarrhea prevention – those jitters you feel right before you have the runs? You won’t be getting those. Not on Imodium, because of its ability to slow down your digestive system. Even if you’ve had sushi that happened to be not even close to as fresh as it was supposed to be – Imodium to the rescue. It takes a maximum of two Imodiums, in my personal experience, to shut pretty much everything down, making it near impossible to get the runs (note* still possible, just unlikely).
Now, Imodium is not something that should be taken regularly. Don’t take it every time you go out to eat – and definitely don’t take it on a daily basis. You build up an immunity to Imodium, so make sure to use it only when it counts. If you feel you might need it, but don’t want too much, I’d also advise splitting a pill in half and using just a half – as it’s really useful to keep your immunity to Imodium down so it can work it’s magic when you really need it.
This stuff is somewhat fast-acting, so you don’t have to take it before the issues start, but I’d recommend it, as it still does take some time to kick in. That being said, Imodium does also make proper fast-acting tablets that dissolve in your mouth, making them truly ideal for on the run/emergency situations where you don’t want to pop one before you go (because you don’t want to increase you immunity) or where you just plain forgot to pop one prior to heading out.
For irregular use when emergencies and disasters strike or for pre-emptive measures; hell, even should you wish to gamble with your life and visit a particularly sketchy KFC or Taco Bell, Imodium can be a real life saver.
Real World Considerations: Everyday Carrying Imodium
As you can plainly see, Imodium is actually one of the handiest tiny tools you can have around for survival and prepper purposes. If you drudge through my past EDCs, you will notice that I have an aluminium canister/capsule that lives on my keychain at all times which contains Imodium and actually a tiny magnet compass. Surviving is more than just (see what I did there?) waiting for the apocalypse, but rather being that guy (or gal) who is always prepared for all the terrible shit life will throw at you.
I’ve mentioned this in the examples before, but if you’re going to a sushi place of questionable repute with a group of friends one night, or venturing out to a local KFC/Taco Bell with the fam to kick that craving you’ve been having for the past week, you might want to bring along some Imodium with you. Then, when a bathroom emergency strikes, hand out the Imodium to those who appear to be suffering and bask in the admiration you will receive from your peers as you rescue them from what is one of the most unpleasant emergencies that can occur in day to day life.
Preparedness gets a bad rap by virtue of focusing on extremes, but what the mainstream doesn’t seem to grasp is that we focus on extremes to cover the whole spectrum. If you can deal with a hurricane, you can deal with a flooded kitchen. If you can deal with diarrhea in a survival situation, you know how to deal with it in everyday situations as well.
More First Aid Resources
When it comes to first aid, you need two important things to help you on your quest to keep yourself and those around you safe & healthy: knowledge and (to a lesser extent) supplies. To tackle the prior, take a look through our list of the top 22 emergency & survival first aid books and grab those that you think will best help you gain the knowledge you’ll need. For the latter, take a look at our Ultimate First Aid Supplies List to see if there’s anything you should be adding to your at-home first aid supplies stockpile, or if there’s something you’ve forgotten to add to one of your first aid kits.
Have some time? You can quickly browse through all our first aid articles here, to see if there’s anything valuable you’ve yet to learn on the topics we’ve written about.