IBS Treatment Options and Prevention Strategies

IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a functional disorder affecting the stomach and intestine, also known as the gastrointestinal tract. Even if the digestive tract appears normal, it does not function as it should. You will need a long-term to manage IBS chronic condition.

However, the good news is only a few people will see severe forms and symptoms of IBS. You can manage IMS through your diet, lifestyle, and stress management.IBS does not affect your bowel tissue or lead to colorectal cancer.

Symptoms Related to Passing the Bowel Movement

  • Cramp and pain in the abdomen

  • Gas, swallowing, and bloating

  • Diarrhea or constipation

  • Bowel movement appearance changes

  • Changes in the frequency of bowel movement

  • Feeling on incomplete bowel evacuation

  • Increase in gas and mucus in the stool

IBS Causes

Although we do not know the precise causes of IBS, the following factors play a vital role in getting IBS to you.

Contractions of Muscles in the Intestine

We can see muscle layers lined in the intestine walls. These muscles contract as the food passes through our digestive tract. Healthy contraction of the intestine walls is normal. Too strong or too slow will cause issues with your bowel movement. Contraction too strong and last long will cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

The weak contraction will cause a slow food movement through the passage, causing herd and dry stool. The other causes include the nervous system, severe infections, early life stress, and gut microbe changes.


We do not know about tests that accurately diagnose IBS. Like any other diagnosis, your doctor may want to look at your medical history and physical tests to check if you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or celiac disease before zeroing in on IBS.

Once your doctor rules out the possibility of other diseases, you can apply one of the following diagnoses.

  • Rome criteria

  • Type of IBS

You need to see a doctor if you experience the following conditions −

  • Loss of weight

  • Night time diarrhea

  • Anemia caused by iron deficiency

  • Vomiting with no reason

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Pain is not gone even after passing gas or a bowel movement

IBS Symptom-based Treatment Strategies

Your provider will check the symptoms, to begin with.

  • Is the onset after age 50

  • Are you losing weight?

  • Experiencing rectal bleeding

  • A fever

  • Causing nausea or vomiting

  • Belly pain occurs at night and not during bowel movement

  • Ongoing diarrhea that wakes you up

  • Anemia caused by iron deficiency

With these symptoms, initial treatments do not work. The doctor will recommend additional tests.

Diagnostic Procedures

  • Colonoscopy

  • CT scan

  • Upper endoscopy

Laboratory Tests

  • Lactose intolerance tests

  • Breath tests for bacterial overgrowth

  • Stool tests

IBS Prevention Strategies

The IBS treatment focuses on symptom relief to make you leave symptoms free first and as much as the doctor can. Stress management, lifestyle change, and diet can help you control the mild symptoms,

  • Shun food that causes IBS symptoms

  • Add high-fiber food to your diet

  • Add plenty of fluid, including a drinking lot of water

  • Regular exercise can keep you healthy and stress-free

  • Minimum 7-9 hours of sleep

Eliminate the Following Food Types

Your doctor might recommend avoiding the food types below to mitigate the symptoms of IBS.

Food that Causes Gas

During IBS, you may experience bloating or gas. Avoid carbonated and alcoholic drinks and beverages. They are not the fluid you are looking for. Some food might also lead to gas formation. Consult a dietician for the list of gut-friendly food items.


You need to avoid food having gluten in it, such as wheat, barley, and rye. Some have seen an improvement in IBS-caused diarrhea after stopping these foods.


Avoid FODMAPs in your food. Carbohydrates that you might be sensitive to, such as fructose, fructans, lactose, and others, are called FODMAPs.that include fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. You must avoid certain cereals, grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products that contain FODMAPs.

IBS Medication Strategies

IBS medications would require work on multiple fronts of the disease and symptom relief. So a doctor may prescribe one or a combination of the following medication strategies to manage IBS. Based on your food, a doctor can recommend IBS medication strategies to support the following objectives −

  • Fiber supplements  Ingesting a supplement like psyllium (Metamucil) through a fluid can ease your constipation, or you may not have any.

  • Laxatives  They do not treat constipation. Over-the-counter laxative medications, such as magnesium hydroxide oral or polyethylene glycol (Miralax), help pass the stool and smooth the bowel clearance.

  • Anti-diarrheal medicines  Over-the-counter medications like loperamide (Imodium A-D) can treat diarrhea. Your doctor may recommend a bile acid binder, cholestyramine (Prevalite), colestipol (Colestid), or colesevelam (Welchol).

  • Anticholinergic medications  Your doctor may prescribe medications, like dicyclomine (Bentyl) relieve painful bowel spasms, also prescribed for patients with bowel diarrhea.

  • Tricyclic antidepressants  Medications, imipramine (Tofranil), desipramine (Norpramin), or nortriptyline (Pamelor), to relieve depression that inhibits neuron activities.

  • SSRI antidepressants  The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor are antidepressant medications, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) or paroxetine (Paxil), which may also reduce pain sensation.

  • Pain medications  To ease severe pain or bloating, the doctor may prescribe pregabalin (Lyrica) or gabapentin (Neurontin).

IBS Medications

The prescription medicines include −

  • Alosetron (Lotronex) to ease your colon and slow the lower bowel waste movement.

  • Eluxadoline (Viberzi)  It helps by reducing the contraction of muscles and eases diarrhea.

  • Rifaximin (Xifaxan)  helps reduce the overgrowth of bacteria and diarrhea.

  • Lubiprostone (Amitiza)  It can increase the fluid secretion in the lower intestine to ease the passage of stool for a smoother bowel movement.

  • Linaclotide (Linzess)  Helps fluid secretion to pass stool and ease bowel movement.

We recommend you visit your doctor and ta any medications under a qualified physician’s supervision.


There are potential future treatments that medical researchers are focusing on, for instance, fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). Under investigation and research, if used, FMT will help restore healthy intestinal bacteria by keeping a different person’s processed stool in the colon of an IBS-infected person. The fecal transplant clinical trials are going on.

Updated on: 24-Apr-2023


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