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Prescription Medicine for Constipation and IBS-C


Updated July 10, 2014

Compared to the list of medicines that are available for diarrhea predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D), prescription medications for constipation predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C) is a bit of a short story. Your doctor is more likely to recommend that you increase your intake of fiber, either through your diet or the use of a supplement, rather than to write out a prescription. If your symptom picture warrants further treatment, a few prescription options are available:

Amitiza (lubiprostone)

Amitiza is approved by the FDA for the treatment of IBS-C, as well as for chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). Amitiza works by increasing the amount of fluids in the intestines and therefore easing the passage of stools. The medication works on a cellular level as it targets (activates) proteins involved in transporting chloride, thus Amitiza is known as a chloride channel activator. Most people who take Amitiza will experience symptom relief within 24 hours. You should not take Amitiza if you have a bowel obstruction, experience severe diarrhea or are pregnant or breastfeeding. Learn more about Amitiza…


Lactulose, an osmotic laxative sold under a variety of brand names, including Cephulac, Chronulac, Constilac, Cholac, Constulose, Duphalac, Enulose, Generlac and Kristalose, is indicated for the treatment of constipation. Lactulose is a manmade sugar that is broken down by bacteria in the intestines, a process that pulls more water into the colon. This increase in water softens, increases and normalizes the stool. The higher volume of stool helps to stimulate colon motility and therefore encourages a bowel movement. Lactulose is generally recommended to be used on a short-term basis. Before taking lactulose, make sure that your doctor knows if you are scheduled for surgery, suffer from diabetes, or are pregnant or breastfeeding. Learn more about Lactulose...

Linzess (linaclotide)

Linzess has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of IBS-C and CIC and is currently available in the U.S. The medication is characterized as a guanylate cyclase-C agonist and is thought to work by increasing the amount of fluid in the large intestine resulting in increased number of bowel movements and decreased abdominal pain. Linzess is called Constella in Europe and should be available to the public sometime in 2013. Learn more about Linzess...

Zelnorm (tegaserod)

Zelnorm is a medication that was designed to treat IBS-C and chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC), by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) in the cells of the gut’s own nervous system. Unfortunately, due to identified serious health risks, the medication is now only available on an emergency basis and its prescription must be authorized directly by the FDA. Learn more about Zelnorm...

A Note About Antidepressants

Antidepressants are not approved as a treatment for constipation. However, due to the high rate of depression in patients with IBS and due to the fact that antidepressants can have effective anti-pain properties, a doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to an individual who suffers from IBS-C. Tricyclic antidepressants are an older class of antidepressants with the unfortunate side effect of constipation and therefore would not be indicated for use by someone who suffers from chronic constipation. Examples of tricyclic antidepressants include Elavil, Norpramin, Pamelor and Tofranil. A better choice of antidepressant for a person who suffers from constipation would be from the class called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), as they are less likely to be constipating. Examples of SSRIs include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. Learn more about antidepressants for IBS...

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.

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