How is IBS treated?
Treatment of IBS varies from person to person, and case to case. They include, where appropriate, changes in lifestyle, such as eating regular meals; changes in diet, such as increasing fiber in those with constipation; and eliminating trigger foods such as fructose and non-absorbable sugars, which can cause diarrhea and bloating. Over the counter medications can be used to decrease diarrhea (loperamide) or improve constipation (soluble or insoluble fiber, laxatives).
Antispasmodics can help with pain, but narcotics are not a good therapy for IBS symptoms because they can alter gastrointestinal tract motility, affect mental function, and cause dependency. For a small number of patients with severe and refractory symptoms, especially pain, low dose antidepressants can be very effective. Probiotics have been helpful for some, though studies on probiotics in the setting of IBS are limited. In certain trials, benefits have also been seen with hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and psychotherapy.