Effective Medications for IBS

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Douglas A. Drossman, MD
A common prescription medication are what we call anticholinergics or antispasmodics and these serve to relax the GI tract. It's often taken before a meal, when the stimulation of the meal can produce symptoms. Getting to the more severe activity, there are products that are, that have been available, that act at certain receptors in the bowel to treat the constipation or the diarrhea. One agent that is now under restricted use, but available, is called Alosetron and this can reduce the diarrhea pain. And we've recently had a product called Tegaserod for constipation. There is a product called lubiprostone which is available now for constipation with IBS. As the symptoms get more severe, we start to look at how much these symptoms can affect their lifestyle, their quality of life. Patients get more anxious about their condition, fearful of leaving the house. And that's when we look at psychological interventions, like cognitive behavior therapy or even hypnosis. These are methods that can help tone down the degree of distress and in fact, actually reduce the symptoms. And then finally, when the symptoms are more severe, we use medications like antidepressants.