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Treatment Gastroenterology

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Although there is no cure for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), there are many options available for treating and eliminating its symptoms.

Because stress and feeling mentally or emotionally tense, troubled, angry or overwhelmed can stimulate intestinal spasms in people with IBS, your doctor may suggest relaxation techniques, such as yoga, exercise and meditation. Tranquilizers and anti-depressants also may relieve symptoms. In addition, a healthy diet that includes lots of water, fiber and small meals may reduce flare-ups.

Fiber supplements or occasional laxatives may help with constipation, while medicines to decrease diarrhea and control intestinal muscle spasms may help reduce abdominal pain.

Medications available to treat IBS specifically include the following:

  • Alosetron hydrochloride (Lotronex) can be used for women with severe IBS who have not responded to conventional therapy and whose primary symptom is diarrhea. However, even in these patients, it should be used with caution because it can have serious side effects, such as severe constipation or decreased blood flow to the colon.
  • Tegaserod maleate (Zelnorm) is typically given on a short-term basis to women with IBS whose primary symptom is constipation.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

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