Many people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) turn to laxatives to relieve constipation, but laxatives usually offer limited help.
Although laxatives do ease constipation, there's no proof that they relieve stomach aches, bloating, and discomfort that come with IBS. That's because the drugs have never been thoroughly studied for the treatment of IBS in randomized controlled trials. In these trials, people are randomly assigned to different treatments without knowing which one they receive. Researchers...
This all makes it difficult for researchers to find a single drug treatment that will relieve all the symptoms of IBS. Different medications work for IBS with constipation and for IBS with diarrhea. Doctors will usually tailor an individual treatment regimen for people who have IBS with alternating symptoms.
People with alternating IBS symptoms should not try to treat themselves, says J. Patrick Waring, MD, a gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Care of Georgia.
"They should not take something for their constipation on their own, and then when they get diarrhea, take something for their diarrhea, and go back and forth," he says. "That can actually exacerbate the problem."
J. Patrick Waring, MD, gastroenterologist, Digestive Health Care of Georgia.
Medscape.com: "Diagnosis, Pathophysiology, and Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome," and "Consensus Report: Clinical Trial Guidelines for Pharmacological Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome."
American College of Gastroenterology.