Treatment for IBS With Constipation (IBS-C)
Laxatives help you go to the bathroom and may work well for occasional constipation. But they can be harmful if you take them regularly. And they don't treat all IBS symptoms such as stomachaches and bloating.
There are different kinds of laxatives. It's important to be aware of what you're taking. Some can be habit-forming and possibly harmful in the long run.
Stimulant laxatives include bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax), sennosides (Ex-Lax, Senokot), castor oil, and the plant cascara. With these laxatives, the active ingredient triggers muscles in the bowels to contract, moving stool through. Talk with your doctor before you take these medications. Over time, senna can damage nerves in the colon wall, and the drugs may stop working.
Osmotic laxatives include lactulose, which is prescribed by a doctor, and polyethylene glycol (Miralax), which you can buy over the counter. They pull water back into the colon to soften stool. That makes it easier to pass, but research has found that they only help with constipation. They may actually make other symptoms worse. Side effects include diarrhea, dehydration, and bloating. Osmotics are considered fairly safe for long-term use for some people with IBS-C, but talk it over with your doctor before you use them regularly.
Linaclotide (Linzess) treats both men and woman with IBS-C when other treatments have not worked. The drug is a capsule you take once daily on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before the first meal of the day. It helps relieve constipation by helping bowel movements happen more often. People age 17 or younger shouldn’t take it. The most common side effect is diarrhea.
Lubiprostone (Amitiza) treats IBS-C in women who haven’t been helped by other treatments. Studies haven't fully shown that it works well in men. Common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, and belly pain.
Doctors may suggest other medications to help relieve some symptoms of IBS, such as constipation, diarrhea, or belly cramping.
Your doctor may prescribe you a low dose of antidepressants for your IBS. This doesn't necessarily mean that you are depressed. Antidepressants can block the brain's perception of pain in the gut.