There is no surefire way to treat IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) with constipation. Most people find relief by relying on a combination of remedies, which typically includes medications as well as lifestyle modifications pertaining to their diet and physical activity level.
The purpose of most treatments for constipation-heavy IBS entails more than just relieving gastrointestinal issues. The aim is also to ease pain and bloating that is fairly common in those with IBS with constipation.
Consulting with your primary physician before trying any treatments for IBS with constipation is also essential because you need to first ascertain that your symptoms are indeed brought on by IBS.
Medications for IBS-C (irritable bowel syndrome with constipation)
Fiber. Some patients find fiber supplements to be very effective in relieving their constipation. The most commonly preferred products include corn fiber, wheat bran, psyllium (such as Metamucil), and calcium polycarbophil (Fibercon)
These supplements work as a way to improve constipation but are ineffective in easing other symptoms of IBS such as stomach pain, bloating, and general discomfort. If your constipation is accompanied by such symptoms, an increased fiber intake may exacerbate them.
Laxative Options. Laxatives make having bowel movements much easier, providing relief for constipation. However, long-term use of laxatives can have adverse side effects, and laxatives also do not address the issues of stomach pain and bloating. There are two main types of laxatives: stimulant and osmotic laxatives. Stimulant laxatives contain ingredients such as bisacodyl, castor oil, cascara, or sennosides. These ingredients incite muscle contractions in the bowels, allowing stool to move along.
Osmotic laxatives contain either lactulose or polyethylene glycol; both versions are available over-the-counter. These laxatives work by getting water into the colon to loosen stool. You should avoid taking laxatives habitually and without discussing their use with your physician.
Prescription-Strength Medicines. There are two prescription-strength medications that are commonly used for the treatment of constipation-heavy IBS. One of them is linaclotide, which is reserved for stubborn cases of IBS that have not responded to milder treatments. This medication ease constipation by stimulating frequent bowel movements, which means that it can cause diarrhea in some patients.
Another common prescription medication is lubiprostone, but this medication is only used for the treatment of IBS-C among women. The side effects of lubiprostone include diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain.
Antidepressants. In some cases, certain antidepressants–known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors–may be prescribed to patients with constipation-heavy IBS. These medications relieve stomach pain at a neurological level.
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