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IBS Treatment Overview

Find the right care and learn about different treatments.
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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • It’s important to always see a healthcare provider to get a treatment plan.
  • IBS can sometimes be treated at home with OTC medications, diet and lifestyle changes, and natural remedies.
  • You may need to see a doctor in-person to get an initial diagnosis and testing.
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Emergency Care

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Call 911 or go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • ​​You have signs of dehydration (extreme thirst, less frequent urination)

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All treatments for IBS
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Read more about IBS care options

When to see a healthcare provider

While there are ways to treat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) at home, IBS is a chronic illness that should be managed by a doctor. They can help you control your symptoms and create a comprehensive treatment plan, which may include IBS prescription medication.

Talk therapy may also be recommended to help your symptoms (both pain and bowel function) and also improve your quality of life.

How do doctors diagnose IBS

Your doctor will use specific criteria for IBS to make a diagnosis. These are based on your symptoms, like ongoing abdominal pain and bowel movement patterns. Your doctor will also give you a treatment plan based on which of the three main types of IBS you have.

Your doctor may order tests to check for other conditions that have symptoms similar to IBS. Tests include a colonoscopy, X-ray or CT scan, and an upper endoscopy.

What to expect from your doctor visit

  • When diagnosing you, your doctor will make sure you don’t have any other conditions, like celiac disease or irritable bowel disease (IBD).
  • If you have IBS, they will use criteria to determine which of the three main types you have: diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D), constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-D), or mixed IBS (IBS-M).
  • They’ll also ask you about any medications you’ve been taking to treat your symptoms.
  • Your doctor may prescribe medications that target different symptoms, such as bile acid binders, antidepressants, and other medications specifically approved for IBS.
  • They may also recommend a type of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help your symptoms (both pain and bowel function) and also your quality of life.

Prescription IBS medications

  • Bile acid binders: cholestyramine (Prevalite), colestipol (Colestid), colesevelam (Welchol)
  • Anticholinergics: dicyclomine (Bentyl)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: imipramine (Tofranil), desipramine (Norpramin), nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • SSRI antidepressants: fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Pain relievers: pregabalin (Lyrica), gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Alosetron (Lotronex) to relax the colon and slow the movement of waste through the lower bowel
  • Eluxadoline (Viberzi) to reduce muscle contractions and fluid secretion in the intestine
  • Rifaximin (Xifaxan) to decrease bacterial overgrowth and diarrhea
  • Lubiprostone (Amitiza) or Linaclotide (Linzess) to increase fluid secretion in your small intestine to help you pass stool

Types of IBS providers

  • A primary care provider can evaluate your symptoms and decide if you need more specialized care.
  • A gastroenterologist is a doctor who specializes in the digestive system and can do additional testing and may be more knowledgeable about treatment options.
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