Can IBS be Cured?

The short answer to this question is: no. However, you should know that there are different strategies you can use to help you manage how you feel. Even though this is a condition that you’ll have for the rest of your life, its symptoms can come and go, depending on your diet and stress levels. Medications can also help you feel better, which is why it is crucial to work with a physician to find the best solution for you.

There are numerous treatments for IBS, and no single one will work for everyone. Basically, you’ll have to consult your doctor and try to find your triggers with their help, and work on removing them or lowering them. This may mean that you have to make some significant lifestyle changes, and you’ll likely be taking some medication.

Lifestyle changes

Some general tips that may help reduce IBS symptoms are:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit the amounts of dairy products you take in
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Drink a lot of water (at least three to four glasses per day)
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and other fiber-rich foods
  • Try to reduce the levels of stress in your life
  • Exercise more and learn to relax
  • Eat smaller meals more commonly, instead of having big meals two or three times per day
  • Keep track of what you eat so you can figure out which foods trigger IBS

You should also know that there are some common food triggers of IBS, such as:

  • Wheat
  • Red wine
  • Cow’s milk
  • Green onions
  • Red peppers

On the other hand, you should eat more of calcium-rich foods, such as:

  • Yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Orange juice
  • Sardines, etc.

Medicines

In order to treat IBS, physicians usually prescribe one of these types of drugs:

Bulking agents, which help slow the movement of food through our digestive symptom. They are, for example, psyllium, as well as corn fiber and wheat bran.

Antibiotics, used to change the amount of bacteria in the intestines. They can control the symptoms for up to 6 months, after taking them for two weeks. The good thing is you can be treated again if they come back. A common antibiotic used for this purpose is rifaximin.

Depending on your symptoms, the doctor will prescribe different treatments:

For abdominal bloating and pain, you may get antispasmodics that help control colon muscle spasms. However, they have some side effects, such as making you constipated, so they are not the perfect choice for all people. Probiotics are also commonly suggested to help with digestive problems, and in some occasions, antidepressants may also help relieve some symptoms.

In case of constipation, the most common treatments are Polyethylene glycol (PEG), Linaclotide, Lubiprostone, and Plecanatide. PEG is an osmotic laxative that causes the water to remain in stool, resulting in softer stools. Linaclotide helps relieve constipation by helping bowel movements happen more often, but is only prescribed to people over 17 years old. It may also cause diarrhea. Lubiprostone is used when no other treatments help women with constipation, while scientists are still not sure if it works in men. This drug has many side effects, from nausea and belly pain to breathing problems and heart palpations. Pelcanatide is great because it usually doesn’t have side effects of abdominal pain and cramping. It helps increase gastrointestinal fluid and encourage regular bowel movements.

If your IBS comes with diarrhea, you may be prescribed Loperamide, Bile acid sequestrants, Alosetron, or Eluxadoline. Loperamide helps slow down the movement of the gut and bowel, making the stool less watery. Bile acid sequestrants are used to lower cholesterol. They bind bile acids and reduce stool production. Alosetron is commonly used to relieve stomach pain and diarrhea, but because of its serious side-effects, it is only used by women who have serious IBS-D, who didn’t manage to treat their symptoms by any other solutions. Eluxadoline may also be prescribed to reduce diarrhea, cramps and bowel contractions.

Whatever treatment you get, remember that you should always follow your doctor’s instructions. Some of the medications, such as laxatives, can be habit-forming, so use them very carefully.

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