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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center

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Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Diarrhea

Prescription Drugs for IBS continued...

In 2001, the FDA pulled Lotronex from the market, due to its high risk of side effects. As of March 2002, the agency recorded at least 84 cases of ischemic colitis, and 113 cases of serious complications of constipation (needing hospitalization) in connection with the medication. The severe side effects resulted in four deaths.

Yet Lotronex had gained strong support among doctors and patients who saw its value in treating IBS with diarrhea. Because of this, in June 2002, the FDA brought back the drug with several restrictions.

Physicians now need to be enrolled in a special program to prescribe Lotronex. The drug is approved only for women with severe, diarrhea-predominant IBS who have not responded to other treatments.

Patients who are considering Lotronex need to seriously consider the benefit of the drug with its risks, says Schoenfeld.

Stress Management for IBS

Everyone feels stressed or worried once in a while. Emotional turmoil, however, seems to affect IBS sufferers more than others.

"Stress seems to complicate or exacerbate IBS symptoms," says Schoenfeld. In the American College of Gastroenterology report, he and other researchers found that a majority of patients who undergo behavioral therapy seem to have improved symptoms.

Behavioral therapy involves a number of techniques to help people better learn how to cope with pain, distress, and stressful situations. It includes relaxation therapy, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychotherapy.

If you consider behavioral therapy for IBS, consult with your regular doctor first, and try to find a therapist who will work with your regular doctor, says Schoenfeld.

Outside of the more formal interventions, there are ways to you can try to reduce stress and ease IBS symptoms on your own. Meditation, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and a well-balanced diet for IBS can all help ease symptoms.

Participating in pleasurable activities also helps. Here are some ideas: take a walk, listen to music, soak in a bath, play sports, or read.

Alternative Therapy for IBS

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

Keep in mind, however, that most alternative therapies haven't been tested for effectiveness in rigorous clinical trials.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found that acupuncture works for chronic pain. For IBS relief, however, the results have been mixed, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic.

There is also some evidence that giving probiotics ("healthy" bacteria normally found in the gut) help people with IBS. One study found that probiotic treatment significantly improved IBS symptoms and quality of life. In the study, researchers primarily used the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria infantis. People with IBS reported fewer symptoms and, in general, a higher quality of life after taking the probiotics for four weeks.

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