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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center

Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) With Constipation

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Prescription IBS Drugs continued...

Linzess is also approved for IBS with constipation as well. The drug is a capsule taken once daily on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before the first meal of the day. Linzess helps relieve constipation by helping bowel movements occur more often. It is not for use in those 17 years of age or younger. The most common side effect of Linzess is diarrhea.   

Doctors may use other prescription medications to help relieve some of the symptoms of IBS, such as constipation, diarrhea, or abdominal cramping.

 

Antidepressants for IBS

Your doctor may prescribe a low dose of antidepressants for IBS. This does not necessarily mean that you are depressed.

Antidepressants can block the brain's perception of pain in the gut, says Beth Schorr-Lesnick, MD, FACG, a gastroenterologist at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y.

There are different kinds of antidepressants and doctors may choose one or the other, depending on whether you suffer from constipation-predominant IBS or diarrhea-predominant IBS.

For IBS patients with constipation, Schorr-Lesnick will sometimes prescribe small doses of a SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant, such as citalopram Celexa, escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft). They do not usually cause constipation. Their side effects include nausea, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.

Other older antidepressants (called tricyclic antidepressants) tend to cause constipation. Doctors usually prescribe them for IBS patients with diarrhea. These drugs include amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), and desipramine (Norpramine). Other side effects of tricyclic antidepressants include dry mouth, drowsiness, and blurred vision.

Antispasmodics for IBS

Antispasmodic drugs relieve the stomach cramps brought on by IBS by relaxing the smooth muscle of the gut. But they also may cause constipation, so they aren't usually prescribed for people who suffer IBS with constipation. Other side effects are dryness, drowsiness, and blurred vision. One example is discyclomine, also known by the brand name Bentyl.

Stress Management for IBS

Many experts believe that stress management can relieve IBS symptoms.

"Stress seems to complicate or exacerbate IBS symptoms," says Philip Schoenfeld, MD. He notes that many studies have shown that reducing tension or worry can improve IBS symptoms.

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