Constipation can be a difficult IBS symptom to deal with, but so can diarrhea. People who suffer from diarrhea-predominant IBS experience frequent bowel movements of watery and/or loose stool. Other diarrhea-related symptoms include abdominal pain or discomfort, cramping, bloating, gas, nausea and dehydration.
The following are 5 treatment options for relieving IBS related diarrhea:
1 – Diet Control
Before resorting to medications or alternative remedies, you should always consider your diet first. Although diet changes may not entirely cure you from diarrhea, it may help reduce the frequency of attacks. Therefore, you should monitor your diet by keeping a food diary and recording the symptoms you feel after eating different foods to determine which ones cause diarrhea and which ones don’t.
For instance, avoiding/limiting foods high in refined, artificial or natural sugar can help alleviate diarrhea symptoms. This doesn’t only include chocolate, caffeine, alcohol and sweets. It also means foods containing fructose such as honey and a variety of fruits. Foods high in sugar can act like a laxative to your body, especially for an IBS sufferer who already has a sensitive stomach.
You should also ask your doctor to test you for lactose intolerance, as an inability to properly digest milk sugar can cause diarrhea.
2 – OTC Antidiarrheal Drugs
Over-the-counter (OTC) antidiarrheal medications can be effective at providing diarrhea relief when used as short-term treatment. There are two types of antidiarrheal drugs.
- Stool thickeners -these contain fruit pectin and clay which absorb toxins and bacteria in the intestine to help thicken stool (I.E. Kaopectate)
- Antispasmodic – these slow spasms that occur in the intestine (I.E. Imodium).
Although, antidiarrheals are usually effective, they may not help other symptoms such as bloating or abdominal discomfort. Furthermore, prolonged use of antidiarrheals can result in dry mouth, constipation, and other symptoms.
Consult your doctor about OTC antidiarrheal meds for IBS treatment before taking anything. In addition, you shouldn’t resort to antidiarrheals until at least 24 hours after experiencing diarrhea, as you don’t want to stop your body from expelling toxins in the event your diarrhea is a result of bacteria such as food poisoning.
3 – Prescription Medications
Low doses of tricyclic antidepressants are commonly prescribed to IBS patients for abdominal pain. These meds effectively block pain signals to the brain and don’t cause diarrhea. However, they can cause other symptoms including constipation.
Another medication that may be prescribed is Lotronex. This particular drug is designed to block the effect serotonin (chemical produced by the body) has on digestive system, and in so doing, soothes the colon and slows bowl movement frequency. Lotronex has been found to be successful at alleviating IBS symptoms including diarrhea, stomach discomfort and urgency.
Note: Lotronex has only been approved for women who suffer from severe cases of diarrhea-predominant IBS ad have not responded to previous treatment methods.
4 – Alternative Therapy
Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, probiotics and herbal remedies can effectively reduce and alleviate diarrhea and its related symptoms in some IBS sufferers. Each of these methods is designed to assist the body in healing itself by providing it with stimulation (acupuncture), healthy gut bacteria (probiotics), or herbs. All work to aid in normal digestion.
If you are interested in learning about alternative treatments, talk to you health care provider first, and be sure to seek treatment from qualified practitioners.
5 – Behavioural therapy
Stress can actually trigger your IBS symptoms and make diarrhea worse, by causing your stomach to tense, leading to cramping and overall stomach upset. You can help reduce the regular stress in your life, and the stress you feel towards your IBS condition by engaging in:
- Meditation exercises (I.E. Yoga)
- Relaxation therapy
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
It’s also a good idea to distract yourself by taking part in regular activities you enjoy.