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Medications for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Other names: IBS; Spastic colon

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and even in the same person, IBS symptoms may change from month-to-month. Most people with IBS have at least two of these symptoms:

  • Multiple episodes of stomach discomfort for at least three months of the past year
  • Altered bowel habits - passing feces more or less frequently than normal, or periods of constipation and then periods of diarrhea
  • Pain, cramping, or discomfort in the abdomen that lessens after a bowel movement
  • Mucus mixed in with the feces
  • Swelling or bloating of the stomach, or a feeling of fullness soon after eating.

Increased stomach gurgling or bowel sounds are also reported frequently by people with IBS.

The American College of Gastroenterology defines IBS as "abdominal discomfort associated with altered bowel habits".

Once people develop IBS they usually have it long term (for life).

How is IBS Diagnosed?

IBS is difficult to diagnose.

It takes most people three years and at least three different doctors before they are given a diagnosis of IBS. Part of the difficulty with diagnosis rests with the many different presentations of IBS, which are:

  • Constipation (constipation-predominant IBS or IBS-C)
  • Diarrhea (diarrhea-predominant IBS or IBS-D)
  • Mixed IBS (constipation and diarrhea at different times).

In addition, symptoms of IBS are similar to countless other conditions - such as:

  • Endometriosis
  • Giardiasis
  • Food allergies
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (eg, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).

Most of these conditions need to be excluded before a definite diagnosis of IBS can be made.

The severity of the disorder varies from person to person. Some people experience symptoms that come and go and are just mildly annoying. Others have such severe daily bowel problems that IBS affects their ability to work, sleep and enjoy life. Also, symptoms may change over time. A person may have severe symptoms for several weeks and then feel well for months or even years.

Most people are never cured of IBS. However, people with IBS do not have an increased risk of colon cancer.

If you have ongoing abdominal discomfort associated with a change in bowel habits, see your doctor. There is no test for IBS. Your doctor will diagnose IBS if you have the typical symptoms and have been tested for other disorders that can cause similar symptoms.
 

Who is More at Risk of IBS?

Nobody knows what causes IBS but certain risk factors make you more likely to get the condition. The condition is more common in:

  • Women
  • People under the age of 45 years
  • Those who already have a family member with IBS
  • Smokers
  • People under psychological stress, such as that associated with anxiety, depression, personality disorder, or a history of sexual abuse.

Treatment

Dietary changes can improve some people’s symptoms dramatically; however, it may take a long time to discover what works well for you and what makes symptoms worse.

Some common IBS trigger foods include:

  • Gas-producing foods such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, or beans
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy products
  • Fatty foods (such as butter, cream, cheese, oils, meats, and avocados)
  • Raw fruits
  • Sorbitol (an artificial sweetener).


Treatments for IBS depend on the predominating symptoms but may include:

  • Anti-diarrheals
  • Laxatives
  • Probiotics
  • Antispasmodics
  • Antidepressants
  • Newer agents that improve stool consistency and frequency.

Ask your doctor what IBS treatment is best for you.

Drugs used to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The following list of medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of this condition.

Drug name Rating Reviews Activity ? Rx/OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol
dicyclomine 7.6 222 reviews
Rx B N X

Generic name: dicyclomine systemic

Brand name:  Bentyl

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Bentyl 7.5 107 reviews
Rx B N X

Generic name: dicyclomine systemic

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

hyoscyamine 8.1 79 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: hyoscyamine systemic

Brand names:  Levsin, Levsin SL, Levbid, Anaspaz, HyoMax, HyoMax SL, Hyosyne, Symax Duotab, Ed-Spaz, HyoMax DT, HyoMax FT, HyoMax SR, Oscimin, Symax SL, Symax SR …show all

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Amitiza 5.8 69 reviews
Rx C N

Generic name: lubiprostone systemic

Drug class: chloride channel activators

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Linzess 6.6 198 reviews
Rx C N

Generic name: linaclotide systemic

Drug class: guanylate cyclase-C agonists

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Donnatal 9.7 38 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: atropine / hyoscyamine / phenobarbital / scopolamine systemic

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Librax 9.0 54 reviews
Rx D N X

Generic name: chlordiazepoxide / clidinium systemic

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

amitriptyline Off-label 8.7 103 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: amitriptyline systemic

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

chlordiazepoxide / clidinium 9.0 65 reviews
Rx D N X

Generic name: chlordiazepoxide / clidinium systemic

Brand name:  Librax

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Levsin 6.2 14 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: hyoscyamine systemic

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Lotronex 9.6 19 reviews
Rx B N

Generic name: alosetron systemic

Drug class: serotoninergic neuroenteric modulators

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

cholestyramine Off-label 8.8 83 reviews
Rx C N

Generic name: cholestyramine systemic

Drug class: bile acid sequestrants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

escitalopram Off-label 7.9 15 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: escitalopram systemic

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

Levsin SL 9.8 6 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: hyoscyamine systemic

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Xifaxan 5.6 59 reviews
Rx C N

Generic name: rifaximin systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous antibiotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

atropine / hyoscyamine / phenobarbital / scopolamine 9.5 43 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: atropine / hyoscyamine / phenobarbital / scopolamine systemic

Brand names:  Donnatal, Antispasmodic, B-Donna Tablets, D-Tal, Me-PB-Hyos, Phenohytro, RE-PB Hyos Elixir, Se-Donna PB HYOS, Vitetal …show all

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, Prescribing Information

Konsyl 10 4 reviews
OTC N N

Generic name: psyllium systemic

Drug class: laxatives

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

Viberzi 6.8 205 reviews
Rx 4 X

Generic name: eluxadoline systemic

Drug class: peripheral opioid receptor mixed agonists/antagonists

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Levbid Rate Add review
Rx C N X

Generic name: hyoscyamine systemic

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Metamucil 6.5 17 reviews
OTC N N

Generic name: psyllium systemic

Drug class: laxatives

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

nortriptyline Off-label 8.3 41 reviews
Rx N N X

Generic name: nortriptyline systemic

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

venlafaxine Off-label 8.1 16 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: venlafaxine systemic

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

Anaspaz Rate Add review
Rx C N X

Generic name: hyoscyamine systemic

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Antispasmodic Rate Add review
Rx C N X

Generic name: atropine / hyoscyamine / phenobarbital / scopolamine systemic

Drug class: anticholinergics/antispasmodics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

psyllium 7.0 24 reviews
OTC N N

Generic name: psyllium systemic

Brand names:  Konsyl, Metamucil, Hydrocil, Laxmar, Natural Fiber Therapy, Reguloid …show all

Drug class: laxatives

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts

Alternative treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The following products are considered to be alternative treatments or natural remedies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Their efficacy may not have been scientifically tested to the same degree as the drugs listed in the table above. However there may be historical, cultural or anecdotal evidence linking their use to the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Learn more about Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptom checker

Symptoms and treatments

Drugs.com Health Center

Mayo Clinic Reference

Legend

Rating For ratings, users were asked how effective they found the medicine while considering positive/adverse effects and ease of use (1 = not effective, 10 = most effective).
Activity Activity is based on recent site visitor activity relative to other medications in the list.
Rx Prescription Only.
OTC Over the Counter.
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over the Counter.
Off-label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

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Further information

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