Thankfully, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not linked to the development of cancer or inflammation of the bowel (colitis) and does not require surgery. Although the causes of IBS are not known, many people can benefit from taking medicines and making simple lifestyle changes, including altering their diet.
Drug treatment is aimed at relieving the four main symptoms of IBS:
- Antispasmodic agents can help alleviate abdominal discomfort and cramping.
These drugs stop muscles in the stomach and intestines from tightening and causing pain. An example of an antispasmodic agent is dicycloverine. Kolanticon contains dicycloverine.
- Antiflatulent agents can help with bloating and the problem of excess wind.
These drugs can reduce the amount of gas in the large bowel that would otherwise be released by burping or passing wind. An example of such an agent is simethicone, which is also an ingredient of Kolanticon.
- Antidiarrhoeal agents can be used to prevent loose stools (faeces).
A commonly used antidiarrhoeal agent is loperamide. However, antidiarrhoeal agents should only be taken when you need them and not on a regular basis.
- Laxatives, such as senna, can help manage constipation.
A laxative called lactulose should not be used in people with IBS. As with antidiarrhoeal agents, the long-term use of laxatives is not recommended. Laxatives may damage the nerves of the large bowel if overused.
If you also experience indigestion or heartburn as a symptom of your IBS, an antacid can be used to neutralise the acid and provide rapid relief. Kolanticon contains two antacids; magnesium oxide and aluminium hydroxide.
Before taking any medication for IBS, it is important to check with your doctor or pharmacist that you are taking the right medicine for your symptoms.
In addition to taking medicines, there are a number of additional things that you can do that may help minimise the impact of IBS of your daily life. Go to the Living with IBS section of this website to find out more about these.