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June 21, 2019

The treatment of IBS has really come a long way. Initially, IBS was a symptom-based treatment, meaning if you had abdominal pain, you get pain medications, anti spasm medications. If you had diarrhea, you can get antidiarrheals such as Imodium or Lomotil. If you had constipation, you would get laxatives. It was very much a symptom-driven treatment. In recent years, we have learned a lot about irritable bowel syndrome and we have some very, very exciting new treatments. One in particular is antibiotics – Rifaximin, which is a very specific type of antibiotic that is not absorbed in the digestive track, seems to help patients with irritable bowel syndrome – specifically those with overgrowth of bacteria in their small intestine. The term for that is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, abbreviated as SIBO. You may have seen this online and it is a very common cause of bacterial overgrowth and is treated with antibiotics and the results are really remarkable in those patients that respond. Other treatments for irritable bowel syndrome include SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. It’s a fancy term for basically antidepressants, but you’ll learn that you don’t have to be depressed. These medications seem to work on the digestive tract (the nerves of the digestive tract) and they help reduce the pain and the cramping and the bloating. Essentially what these medications do is they balance the nervous system of the digestive track and they have been shown to be very, very effective. Now you may go to your doctor and they may recommend these medications. If you’re a good doctor, don’t worry – they don’t think you’re nuts or crazy. It’s just that these medications tend to help balance and restore the balance of the nervous system of the gut and they’re tremendously helpful.

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