The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms.
Lifestyle changes can help in some cases of IBS. For example, regular exercise and improved sleep habits may reduce anxiety and help relieve bowel symptoms.
Dietary changes can be helpful. However, no specific diet can be recommended for IBS, because the condition differs from one person to another.
The following changes may help:
- Avoiding foods and drinks that stimulate the intestines (such as caffeine, tea, or colas)
- Eating smaller meals
- Increasing fiber in the diet (this may improve constipation, but make bloating worse)
Talk with your doctor before taking over-the-counter medications.
No one medicine works for everyone. Some that your doctor may suggest include:
- Anticholinergic medications (dicyclomine, propantheline, belladonna, and hyoscyamine) taken about a half-hour before eating to control intestinal muscle spasms
- Bisacodyl to treat constipation
- Loperamide to treat diarrhea
- Low doses of tricyclic antidepressants to help relieve intestinal pain
- Lubiprostone for constipation symptoms
- Rifaximin, an antibiotic
Psychological therapy or medicines for anxiety or depression may help with the problem.