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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center

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Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) With Constipation

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.

You can reduce stress in many ways. Regular exercise effectively lowers stress. So does yoga and meditation. People with IBS can also ease the pressure through simple activities they enjoy: getting a massage, listening to music, taking a bath, or even reading a good book.

Another stress-busting technique is behavioral therapy. Behavorial therapy teaches you how to change the way your mind and body react to events. It can include cognitive behavorial therapy, psychotherapy, hypnosis, biofeedback, and relaxation therapy. Most of these therapies help people avoid overreacting to stressful situations and people. Studies show that behavioral therapy effectively relieves many IBS symptoms, according to the American College of Gastroenterologists.

Alternative Treatments for IBS

Some IBS sufferers turn to alternative therapies such as acupuncture and herbs to relieve their symptoms.

There is not much scientific evidence that these therapies work for IBS, mostly because few clinical trials have been done to assess their effectiveness.

Yet some doctors and patients say alternative therapies offer relief. Schorr-Lesnick, for instance, recommends a little bit of peppermint oil for her patients to help ease muscle spasms in the stomach.

If you want to try acupuncture or herbs for your IBS with constipation, talk with your doctors first. Some herbs can interact with other medications.

IBS Treatment Conclusion

Work with your doctor to choose the right combination of IBS treatments for you. Remember, not every treatment works for every person. You may need to try several different therapies before finding relief from your IBS symptoms.

Also, your symptoms may change as you are treated for IBS. You may feel constipated and swollen now, but suffer from diarrhea and cramping in a few weeks, and then go back to being constipated.

Treating IBS can be frustrating, largely because IBS is a complex syndrome. Your best bet? Find a doctor who understands IBS, and work together on your treatment plan, says Waring. With proper treatment -- and some patience -- people with IBS lead full and normal lives.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 01, 2014
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