A variety of medications are notable for the treatment of the symptoms of IBS. The range of medications used to treat irritable bowel syndrome includes
- Anti-diarrhea medicines
Your doctor may also recommend fiber supplements and/or laxatives to ease your constipation or other medicines to reduce your diarrhea, such as Lomotil or loperamide (Imodium).
Antispasmodics and anticholinergics are commonly prescribed to help control and slow muscle spasms in the colon and diminish abdominal pain. Examples include Hyoscyamine (Anaspaz, Cystospaz, Levsin) and dicyclomine (Bentyl, Di-Spaz)
Antidepressants function on the nervous system of the gut to reduce its sensitivity to pain and other sensations. However, antidepressants can also be prescribed to ease the depression resulting from the symptoms of IBS.
Your doctor may also give you sedatives or tranquilizers for brief periods to treat anxiety that may be making your symptoms worse. Antispasmodics and antidepressants can also worsen constipation, so doctors may also prescribe medications that relax muscles in the bladder and intestines, such as Donnapine and Librax. These medications contain a mild sedative, which can be addictive and habit forming, so they need to be used under the guidance of a physician.
The medications available specifically to treat IBS are:
- Alosetron Hydrochloride (Lotronex) is approved for use by people with severe symptoms IBS, particularly those who have not readily responded to conventional therapy treatments and whose most troublesome symptom is diarrhea. However, Lotronex must be used with extreme caution because it can have a range of significant side effects, including severe constipation and reduced blood flow to the colon.
- Tegaserod Maleate (Zelnorm) is approved for short-term use by people with IBS whose most troublesome symptom is constipation. Zelnorm is initially prescribed for 4 to 6 weeks. However, if the overall effects are beneficial, then doctors may prescribe an additional 4 to 6 weeks.
Always follow your doctors instructions when using any medications and always watch out for on any adverse side-effects. This is important even with non-prescription medications, such as fiber supplements and laxatives.
Some people report increased abdominal bloating and gas following increased fiber intake, and this can trigger a worsening of IBS symptoms. In addition, laxatives can be addictive if they are used too often.
Medications can affect people differently, and no single medication or group of medications will work for everyone who suffers from the symptoms of IBS. You will need to work with your doctor to find the best treatment options for your symptoms.