Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder that affects about 11 percent of people worldwide.

Those with IBS often experience:

There’s no cure for IBS yet, but dietary changes and improved lifestyle habits can help manage it.

A variety of medications may also help with symptoms.

Bentyl is one drug that’s used to manage IBS. Bentyl reduces muscle spasms in your gut and may help improve cramping and pain related to these spasms.

In this article, we’ll look at how Bentyl targets IBS symptoms. We’ll also look at the effectiveness and potential side effects of this medication.

Bentyl is the brand name of the drug dicyclomine. It was first approved for the treatment of peptic ulcer disease in 1996 in the United States. Nowadays, it’s most commonly used for treating muscle spasms caused by IBS.

It’s also used to treat a variety of other conditions, such as morning sickness and intestinal hypermotility.

Bentyl is an anticholinergic drug. This means it blocks the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine binds to receptors on the muscles that surround your gut and signals for them to contract. By reducing the action of this neurotransmitter, Bentyl helps the muscles in your gut relax.

You can take Bentyl orally as a liquid, tablet, or capsule. Most labels say to take it four times a day around the same time each day.

You may be able to take 20 milligrams (mg) of Bentyl up to four times per day. However, a doctor will let you know the best amount for you. It’s often recommended to take it as needed.

Bentyl is used to relieve muscle spasms caused by IBS and other symptoms related to these spasms.

The muscles around your colon normally contract to pass feces through your digestive tract. These muscle contractions are usually barely noticeable.

However, people with IBS often experience painful and frequent muscle spasms that cause pain and cramping.

Bentyl can be used as either a short- or long-term treatment option for IBS. It usually helps improve symptoms within hours of taking it. Your doctor may recommend taking Bentyl along with other treatment methods.

There’s limited clinical evidence examining the effectiveness of Bentyl for IBS.

As of 2015, the use of Bentyl was based primarily on one placebo-control study from 1981.

In the 1981 study, researchers gave people with IBS 40 mg of dicyclomine hydrochloride four times per day for 2 weeks.

The researchers found that the participants had less abdominal pain and better bowel movements after taking dicyclomine. However, the majority of the participants also had side effects due to the drug blocking activity of acetylcholine.

In rare cases, some people may develop a severe allergic reaction after taking Bentyl. Those symptoms may include:

  • trouble breathing
  • rash
  • facial swelling

If you have any known medication allergies, it’s a good idea to alert your doctor before taking Bentyl.

The anticholinergic effects of Bentyl may cause several other unwanted side effects, such as a reduced ability to sweat and drowsiness.

It’s a good idea to find out how Bentyl affects you before driving while taking it. Taking Bentyl with alcohol may increase its drowsiness-inducing effects.

Bentyl has the potential to be addictive. However, Bentyl misuse is rare. One 2013 case study describes an 18-year-old in India who had to undergo drug rehabilitation after taking Bentyl for a year and a half.

Other potential side effects of Bentyl or signs of overdose include:

Bentyl isn’t suitable for people younger than 18 or adults older than 65. It’s also not suitable for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding due to a lack of human research.

There’s no current cure for IBS, but there are a number of treatment options besides Bentyl.

If you have IBS, it’s important to discuss treatment options with a doctor to find the best way to reduce your symptoms.

Here are some of the other treatment options that may be used to manage IBS:

  • Other IBS medications. The FDA has approved several other medications for IBS, including Lotronex, Viberzi, Amitiza, Xifaxan, and Linzess.
  • Medications for symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend taking specific medications to target certain symptoms, such as constipation or diarrhea.
  • Reducing stress. Symptoms of IBS often flare up during periods of anxiety or psychological stress due to feedback from your autonomic nervous system.
  • Diet. Certain foods may trigger IBS symptoms. Some people find it helpful to avoid certain vegetables or follow a low FODMAP diet.
  • Probiotics. A 2013 review found that certain strands of probiotics may help some people manage IBS, but more high-quality research is needed.
  • Sleep. Getting adequate rest may help you manage IBS symptoms by helping you manage stress.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise helps you deal with stress and may help stimulate normal contractions in your gut.
  • Relax. Spending more time during relaxing activities may help you reduce your symptoms of IBS.

What is the new IBS pill?

Tenapanor (Ibsrela) is a prescription medication recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of IBS-C. An over-the-counter medication that may help relieve symptoms of IBS is Buscopan. However, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking either of these medications.

Is there an over-the-counter pill for IBS?

There’s no single over-the-counter (OTC) medication for IBS. However, some OTC medications may help relieve specific symptoms, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. For example, bisacodyl (Dulcolax), magnesium oxide, polyethylene glycol (Miralax), senna (Senokot), and soluble fiber may help treat constipation. For diarrhea, loperamide (Imodium) may help.

Bentyl is a drug that blocks the activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It may help reduce painful muscle spasms in your gut caused by IBS.

Bentyl has the potential to cause side effects, such as hallucinations or drowsiness.

If you’re currently living with IBS, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about potential treatment options that might be right for you.

Many people find making lifestyle adjustments, like reducing stress, exercising more, and avoiding trigger foods, helps them manage their symptoms.