A doctor may recommend that a person takes over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This can include laxatives, antidiarrheals, antibiotics, and more.
IBS is a condition that affects a person’s large intestine, also known as the colon. Some people with IBS have mild symptoms that they can manage with dietary changes and OTC medication. Other people with more severe IBS may need prescription medication to help manage their symptoms.
Many medications have side effects, limitations, and warnings. Before taking any medication, people should seek professional medical advice.
This article outlines which OTC and prescription medications people can take to help with their IBS. It also discusses if diet can help relieve IBS symptoms and answers some frequently asked questions.
Bismuth subsalicylate is also an antidiarrheal that
Pepto-Bismol is a common brand name for medication containing bismuth subsalicylate.
It works by making gas bubbles pass more easily through a person’s digestive system. It can help to alleviate discomfort from excess gas.
Laxatives help people with IBS empty their bowels if they have constipation. Stimulant laxatives such as bisacodyl and senna help a person’s bowel move and also soften their stools.
Other nonprescription laxatives for IBS include osmotic laxatives and stool softeners.
Osmotic laxatives work by retaining water in a person’s stool so they are easier to pass. Stool softeners allow more water into a person’s stool.
A doctor may recommend prescription medications to help a person manage IBS symptoms
The medication works by increasing the amount of fluid that flows into a person’s bowel. This allows their stools to pass more easily.
Rifaximin (Xifaxan) is an antibiotic that
Eluxadoline is a mu-opioid receptor agonist medication. It
Some dietary changes may help relieve symptoms of IBS. Doctors may recommend:
- consuming foods high in fiber, such as:
- whole grains
- avoiding larger meals, instead eating
4–5 smaller mealsper day
- keeping a food diary to identify any trigger foods, and avoiding those foods
- following a
low FODMAP diet, which is a diet low in certain kinds of hard-to-digest carbohydrates
People can also help IBS symptoms by avoiding or limiting their intake of foods such as:
- milk products, such as cheese or ice cream
- coffee and other caffeinated beverages
- carbonated drinks
- drinks that contain artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup
- some fruits and vegetables
A doctor may refer a person to a dietitian to help them create a suitable eating plan and ensure that they get enough essential nutrients.
Here are some frequently asked questions about IBS.
What helps IBS symptoms fast?
Medications may help relieve some different IBS symptoms fast. For diarrhea, medication such as loperamide may provide people with immediate short-term relief
How can I cure my IBS naturally?
- getting enough physical activity or exercise
- reducing stress
- getting enough quality sleep
What pain relief can you take for IBS?
Pain relief medication that may help a person’s IBS cramps or abdominal pain
Some antidepressants may also relieve a person’s IBS pain. A doctor can advise on which OTC or prescription medications they recommend for relief from IBS pain.
Various OTC and prescription medications may help a person to manage the symptoms of IBS. These include antidiarrheal medications for diarrhea in people with IBS-D and laxatives for constipation in people with IBS-C.
Other methods to improve IBS symptoms include dietary changes, stress reduction methods, and getting enough physical activity.
It is best for a person to contact a doctor or pharmacist before beginning any new medication treatment. They can advise on suitable treatment options and what taking the OTC or prescription medication involves.