December 1, 2010 by  

diagram of a human digestive system
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Clinical guidelines for diagnosis of IBS say the person should have had a total of 12 weeks of unexplained abdominal pain in last 12 months (the 12 weeks do not have to be consecutive). The pain will have two out of three of the following characteristics: it is relieved by defecation; it is related to a change in frequency of stools; it is related to a change in the stools’ appearance.

The doctor will review your symptoms and may refer you for investigations, such as bowel X-rays or endoscopy, to exclude underlying disorders. Often, no medication is needed and the symptoms can be controlled with some lifestyle and dietary changes and relaxation techniques. However, if treatment is needed, there are various options.

  • Antidiarrhoeal Drugs and Bulking Agents

Antidiarrhoeal drugs, such as loperamide, may be helpful for people with diarrhea. There is some evidence to support the use of bulking agents, such as ispagula husk, in the treatment of constipation associated with IBS. These drugs act by increasing the bulk of the stool, so stimulating normal contractions in the wall of the gut.

  • Antimuscarinics and Antispasmodics

Studies have shown that some antimuscarinics, such as hyoscine butyl bromide, and antispasmodics, such as mebeverine, can help relieve the pain of IBS. These drugs are thought to reduce abnormal contractions in the gut by relaxing the muscles in the wall.


  • Keep a food diary to help you identify foods that bring on attacks so you can avoid them.
  • Make sure you get some exercise on a regular basis.
  • If stress is a factor in your IBS, practice relaxation or meditation daily.
  • Take a daily probiotic supplement.
  • Try peppermint oil capsules.
  • If constipation is a problem, take a gentle bulk-forming laxative regularly, but avoid bran and bran-based laxatives, which can make IBS worse.
  • Do not smoke, because smoking irritates the gastrointestinal tract.
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