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Xifaxan (Rifaximin) for IBS-D and Non Constipation IBS

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Updated December 29, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What Is Xifaxan?:

Xifaxan (rifaximin) is an antibiotic that is FDA-approved for the treatment of travelers' diarrhea. Xifaxan has also been used to treat small intestine bacteria overgrowth (SIBO). The medication is currently undergoing clinical trials to determine its effectiveness in treating diarrhea predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) and non-constipation IBS.

How Does Xifaxan Work?:

Xifaxan is taken orally, and in studies on Xifaxan for IBS, the medicine is taken for a two-week period. Xifaxan is not absorbed in the stomach and thus is thought to act on bacteria found within the small and large intestines. The non-absorption quality of Xifaxan results in minimal effects on the body as a whole.

Side Effects of Xifaxan:

Xifaxan is generally tolerated well. In clinical trials, adverse side effects tend to be in line with those of placebo. Minor side effects have been reported:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Should you experience any of the following side effects when taking Xifaxan, you should contact your doctor immediately:

  • Allergic symptoms, such as difficulty breathing; hives, itching or rash; or swelling of lips, face or tongue
  • Fever
  • Watery or bloody diarrhea

Is Xifaxan Effective for IBS?:

Clinical trials to date have shown that for a subset of IBS patients, Xifaxan produces relief of IBS symptoms, and appears to be particularly effective in reducing bloating. Further research is needed as to long-term side effects and effectiveness.

Essential Reading from Dr. Bolen, your IBS guide:

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Sources:

American College of Gastroenterology IBS Task Force "An Evidence-Based Position Statement on the Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome" American Journal of Gastroenterology 2009:S1-S35.

Gaman, A., Bucur, M. & Kuo, B. Therapeutic advances in functional gastrointestinal disease: irritable bowel syndrome. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, 2009 2:169-181.

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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