Discover IBS MEDICATIONS used to treat or relieve diarrhea, constipation and pain symptoms. Prescription and over the counter treatment options.
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These are normally used to relieve symptoms such as pain, diarrhea and constipation. IBS medications are not a cure, but they are a good way of allowing you to TAKE CONTROL, something that is very important to anyone with the condition.
The choice of drug depends on the type of IBS you have and can be broadly divided into the anti-spasm drugs or antispasmodics, laxatives, antidiarrheals, bulking agents and miscellaneous options. Some are available over the counter, others are only available by a doctors prescription.
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ANTISPASMODIC DRUGS are used for pain relief and are particularly good when you have cramps. They have relatively widespread use as IBS medications and some may already be familiar to you. They work by reducing the abdominal spasm symptoms such as pain, cramps and discomfort.
The most common ones include:
The ANTICHOLINERGIC IBS MEDICATIONS include Mebeverine (Colofac, Duspatalin), Buscopan (hyoscine butylbromide), Bentyl or Merbentyl (Dicyclomine), Dicetel (Pinaverium Bromide), Hyoscyamine (Levsin and Nulev) and Propantheline (Pro-Banthine).
They work on bowel symptoms by exerting an effect on your gut muscles at a cell level, reducing bowel spasm and pain, but can have ANTIMUSCARINIC side effects including dry mouth, blurring of vision and urine retention. Thankfully, these side effects are generally well tolerated, but shouldn't be ignored if you experience them.
Peppermint Oil Capsules - trade name of MINTEC or COLPERMIN - can be taken three times a day. They work on anti-pain channels to reduce painful spasms and are a good, natural option. They come in capsule form to allow easy passage of the medication in to your bowel without, without causing any irritation in your mouth.
They have VERY FEW SIDE EFFECTS, which is great news, but may increase acid reflux symptoms such as heartburn and acid regurgitation because they relax the "sphincter mechanism" between your esophagus and stomach (this normally prevents reflux occurring).
ANTIDIARRHOEAL DRUGS are used relieve symptoms in diarrhoea predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The most common ones are Loperamide (Imodium), Co-Phenotrope (Lomotil), Codeine and Pepto-Bismol (Bismuth Subsalicylate). They reduce your bowels contractility, but should be used with caution as they can paradoxically increase spasm symptoms in some people.
Some of them are in the same family of drugs as opiates including morphine and diamorphine (heroin) - but are much weaker. They work by stimulating opiate receptors in your bowel wall which in turn reduces your guts contraction and subsequent bowel movements.
Antidiarrheal IBS medications do have side effects occasionally and include:
Some IBS-D sufferers don’t like antidiarrheal because of their constipating effect, but are certainly useful if needing to reduce your bowel movements.
Laxative type IBS medications work in a variety of ways including bulking up your stools, stimulating the bowel or by drawing water into the colon.
The other group are the BULKING AGENTS which work by 'bulking up' your bowel motion, making it easier for your bowel to handle the passage of stool through your gut.
Its action is achieved by the physical bulk as well as drawing fluid in to the fiber and stool.
The commonly used bulking agents are
There are a variety of bowel stimulants available including Bisacodyl (Dulcolax, Correctol, Bisacolax, Bisac-Evac, Alophen, Feen-A-Mint), Senna (Senokot, Ex-Lax) and Sodium Picosulfate (Picolax, Prepopik, Clenpiq). They speed up the bowel movements by stimulating the nerves which control the bowels muscles.
These laxatives work faster than the bulking agents and are the best option if you need fast relief.
Stool softener type IBS medications work by increasing the fluid content of your stools (sometimes referred to as osmotic laxatives and these include lactulose, Milk of Magnesia and polyethylene glycol (Movicol, Laxido, Miralax). Some also work by softening your stools such as Docusate Sodium (Colace)
Bile acid sequestrants such as Cholestyramine (Questran, Questran Light, Prevalite), Colestipol (Colestid) and Colesevelam (Welchol, Cholestagel). Cholestyramine and Colestipol are powders which you mix up in water whereas Colesevelam is a tablet. They were originally designed to lower cholesterol levels, but they all bind bile acids. After gallbladder surgery (cholecystectomy) sometimes diarrhea persists due to BAM or bile acid malabsorption. These 3 medications can help with this. They also help some people with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome.
MISCELLANEOUS IBS MEDICATIONS include:
I won’t go in to detail with these drugs as the latter two are rarely used now, but if you click on their links you can find out more detail including indications, doses and common side effects.
There's also new medication for IBS-C constipation, particularly in refractory or resistant symptoms. These include:
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