Managing IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) symptoms necessitates making some lifestyle modifications such as dietary adjustments and stress management, but medications may also be needed. In cases where lifestyle adjustments and at-home treatments do not improve the symptoms of IBS, your doctor may recommend or prescribe medicines that can ease stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating.
Most IBS medications are effective enough to lessen the impact the condition may have on your everyday life. These medications are not a cure for IBS, however; they can only provide relief and cannot completely eradicate symptoms.
In many cases, patients are prescribed a medication that can ease their most severe symptom. For instance, if an individual has diarrhea-predominant IBS, their best option may be using antidiarrheals or antispasmodics.
There are only a handful of medications that effectively ease IBS symptoms, and they all come with side effects, which is why medications should only be taken for severe symptoms that impact your everyday life. If you have another condition, such as a mood disorder like depression or an anxiety disorder, this can also exacerbate IBS symptoms, but these conditions can also be treated.
Medications for Diarrhea
When home remedies and lifestyle changes are not enough to relieve diarrhea, your doctor may recommend the following medications:
– Antidiarrheals; drugs containing the ingredients loperamide, atropine, or diphenoxylate.
– Bile acid sequestrants; medications containing the compound cholestyramine.
– Rifaximin; available under the brand name Xifaxan, this medication is used for about two weeks when the most severe symptoms of an IBS patient are diarrhea and swelling.
– Alosetron; also known by its brand name Lotronex, this medication can only be used by women who experience intense diarrhea. The use of alosetron may potentially lead to the development of ischemic bowel disease.
Medications for Constipation
There is a huge variety of medications used for the treatment of constipation-predominant IBS that has not responded to basic home remedies. A majority of constipation medications are non-prescription and sold over-the-counter. However, these drugs mustn’t be used long-term as they can have adverse side effects.
Consult with your doctor before starting to use medications for constipation relief. Some of the most common constipation medications are laxatives (stimulant or osmotic laxatives), linaclotide, lubiprostone, and polyethylene glycol.
Medications for Stomach Pain and Cramps
If you experience persistent, severe stomach pain and cramps, your doctor may recommend an antispasmodic such as dicyclomine. You may also be prescribed an antidepressant to relieve stomach pain associated with IBS.
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