Ibs Treatments Medications

The treatment of IBS is based on the severity and the nature of each person’s symptoms. The treatment options are: lifestyle changes, pharmacological treatment, and psychological treatment.

Lifestyle Changes


Fiber is the non-digestible part of plant food and adds bulk to the stools by absorbing water. Fibre increases the transit time of the colon. All patients do not benefit by fibres. Patients with constipation predominant IBS may derive some benefit. Fiber-rich foods or fiber supplements are two ways to increase fiber consumption.

Dietary modifications

Symptoms of IBS sometimes appear after ingestion of a certain food.  The type of food which causes symptoms varies from individual to individual. To determine which foods trigger IBS symptoms one has to maintain a diary and record symptoms that occur after eating different food items.

If a symptom is produced by one food, he should withdraw the food. After some time he should again consume it and observe for the reappearance of symptom. If the symptoms reappear then it is the offending food. Foods that aggravate IBS symptoms should be avoided. Milk, vegetables such as beans and cabbage, fatty foods and alcohol are notorious for increasing the symptoms of IBS.

. Medications

• Anti-spasmodic drugs and anti-cholinergic drugs. They act by decreasing the abnormal smooth muscle activity.
• Antacids/anti-gas medications. They help by reducing flatulence and the accompanying lower abdominal pain.
• Anti-diarrheal medications (e.g. loperamide or ‘immodium’). These drugs have shown improvement in diarrhoea and abdominal pain in some IBS patients.
• Prokinetic agents (e.g. cisapride). These drugs are used in constipation-predominant IBS. They improve the motility of the intestines. The drug is to be taken orally 30 minutes before lunch and dinner.


Some antidepressants like amitriptyline, imipramine, and despramine, fluoxetine, sertraline, and paroxetine are commonly used to treat IBS. It can take as long as 4-6 weeks before their beneficial action is observed.

. Psychological Treatment

Psychological treatments should be considered if symptoms are severe and are associated with psychological distress. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, biofeedback therapy, relaxation therapy, and hypnotherapy can be tried.

• In cognitive-behavioral therapy patients learns strategies to control their symptoms.
It tries to change the patient’s beliefs about his illness.

• Biofeedback and relaxation training is particularly useful in helping patients control the physiological consequences of stress. Techniques used in biofeedback and relaxation therapy include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, hypnosis or imagery techniques, or a combination.

One has to try several different treatments before finding the one that will work the best for him. Different things work for different people, and to know what works best for a particular patient can only be decided by trial and error.

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