Relief for IBS Constipation

Written by Mary Ellen Ellis & Tricia Kinman | Published on September 29, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD on September 29, 2014

Relief for IBS Constipation

Living with IBS is a daily challenge. You have to put up with embarrassing symptoms like the near-constant need to find the restroom, and the uncomfortable physical aspects of the condition. Constipation can be one of the most frustrating, painful, and uncomfortable symptoms. The good news is that there are many ways you can find relief and get back to some sense of regularity.

Fiber

Fiber is a non-digestible material found naturally in food that helps to move food through your colon. In this way, it can help get things moving and relieve your constipation. You can get more fiber into your diet or with the help of a supplement. The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) recommends eating fiber that contains psyllium over bran. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.

While it can relieve constipation, fiber can also increase gas, cramping, and pain. The best way to avoid this is to introduce fiber into your diet slowly until you can get used to processing it. Make sure you drink plenty of water and check your food labels to aim for 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day. If changing your diet doesn’t provide relief, try a supplement. Be sure to always check with your doctor before starting any supplements.

Laxatives

Sometimes over-the-counter laxatives can provide adequate temporary relief from constipation. Be sure to consult with your doctor before trying a new product and always start with the lowest recommended dosage. These medications are not meant to be used for long periods, but can be very helpful in the short term. Ask your doctor which laxative is right for you and use only when truly necessary.

Medications

When other options have failed, talk to your doctor about prescriptions to treat your constipation. A few drugs on the market are designed to relieve constipation.

Bisacodyl

This is a stimulant laxative. It stimulates the activity of your intestines to produce a bowel movement. It should produce a bowel movement within six to 12 hours of taking it. If your doctor gives you this medication, take it only as directed and for no longer than is recommended. It’s possible to become dependent on laxatives and lose normal bowel activity.

Lubiprostone (Amitiza)

Lubiprostone (Amitiza) is approved only for women. This drug is recommended for people who suffer from chronic constipation associated with IBS. It works by increasing the amount of fluids in your stool. This softens the stool, making it easier to pass. Make sure you follow dosages and your doctor’s instructions carefully.

Linaclotide (Linzess)

This relatively new drug is also recommended for people who suffer from chronic constipation associated with IBS. This medication works by increasing the fluid already found in the intestines so stools can pass. It is not recommended for children under age 17.

Alternative Medicine

Some aspects of alternative medicine may provide you some relief from constipation. Although it has not been definitely proven to be effective, acupuncture may reduce some of the pain associated with your condition. You might also try yoga, massage, and meditation. Again, these have not been proven to help, but there is no harm in trying them. At the very least, they may reduce your stress.

You might also try eating probiotics. These are bacteria and yeasts that naturally live in your intestines and help you to process food. It’s possible that you are lacking the right combination of these organisms. In this case, eating yogurt with active cultures may provide some relief from gas and bloating. 

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