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Treatments Available for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic medical condition, but it can be managed with the appropriate treatment. A new course of treatment for IBS will depend on the types of symptoms a patient is experiencing and their severity. In most cases, treatment for IBS will also require patients to make some alterations in their lifestyle. If you are experiencing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, then you will need to work closely with doctor in order to develop a treatment plan that will work for your specific case.

(Have you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome? See if you qualify for our IBS clinical trial in Birmingham, AL.)

Common Treatments for IBS

Fiber Supplements: Patients may need to take fiber supplements in order to help control chronic constipation if that is one of their primary symptoms. Common forms of fiber supplements include methylcellulose (Citrucel) and psyllium (Metamucil).

Anti-Diarrheal Medications: Again, if an IBS patient has been struggling with the effects of diarrhea, their doctor may suggest anti-diarrheal medications to help relieve their symptoms. Some anti-diarrheals like loperamide (Imodium) are available over-the-counter to help control diarrhea.

No More High-Gas Foods: For people experiencing excessive bloating or are having other issues with an excessive level of gas, their doctor may suggest an alteration in their everyday diet. Mainly, they should look to avoid consuming carbonated beverages, raw fruits, vegetables, or salads (in particular, they will need to eliminate broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower).

Anticholinergic Medications: Some IBS patients require a form of medication that will treat portions of the autonomic nervous system in order to relieve painful bowel spasms, these are called anticholinergics. The usage of these drugs depends entirely upon the types of symptoms that a patient has been experiencing. For instance, anticholinergics can be beneficial for people who have been struggling with bouts of diarrhea, but they can actually make constipation worse.

Antidepressant Medications: For patients who have been experiencing pain or depression as a result of their IBS, their doctor may prescribe a tricyclic antidepressant or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). These medications will work to relieve depression, and they can help to suppress the activity of neurons that control the intestines. If there is no depression, their doctor may recommend a lower dosage form of tricyclic antidepressants, such as imipramine (Tofranil) and amitriptyline. Some patients may experience certain side effects such as constipation and drowsiness while taking antidepressants. Fluoxetine (Sarafem or Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), or other forms of SSRIs can be beneficial for patients who are depressed, constipated, and are suffering from pain. In some cases, the use of these medications could lead to even worse diarrhea.

Antibiotics: At this time, antibiotics have been used in some cases as a treatment for IBS, but more research is required to fully understand the role it can play in treating this inflammatory condition. Some patients who are experiencing symptoms as a result of an excessive level of bacteria in their intestines could benefit from a course of antibiotics.

Counseling: If antidepressant medications have proven to be unsuccessful, IBS patients can turn to additional counseling to relieve their stress levels. High levels of stress can often cause the symptoms of IBS to become exacerbated.

Since IBS is often the result of a combination of stress-related and physical factors, a course of treatment which addresses both of these aspects will be the most successful in the end. In addition to treating diarrhea or constipation with medication and alterations to your diet and lifestyle, psychological therapy or other stress management techniques should be an important part of your IBS treatment plan.