Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education Web site.
Information from Your Family Doctor
Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Am Fam Physician. 2012 Sep 1;86(5):online.
See related article on irritable bowel syndrome.
What is irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is stomach discomfort or pain that happens with constipation, diarrhea, or both.
How is it treated?
IBS can't be cured, but symptoms can be treated. There are many types of treatments, and your doctor can help you decide what is best for you. These treatments include:
Exercise: Three to five times per week.
Laxatives: Over-the-counter laxatives, such as polyethylene glycol (one brand: Miralax). This may help with constipation, but probably not with stomach pain.
Antidiarrheal medicines: Over-the-counter loperamide (one brand: Imodium). This may help with diarrhea, but probably not with stomach pain.
Probiotics: Probiotics are found in some over-the-counter supplements and yogurts. Common probiotics are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus.
Prescription medicines: Your doctor also may prescribe a medicine to help with more severe symptoms. But, these medicines could cause side effects.
Other treatments: Relaxation, hypnosis, acupuncture, herbal medicines, and peppermint oil.
Where can I get more information?
American Academy of Family Physician's Patient Education Resource
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
Web site: http://aboutIBS.org
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self Help and Support Group
Web site: http://www.ibsgroup.org
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.
Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.
Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions