Doctors are using a variety of treatment options, including antibiotics and antidepressants, to try to help people looking for relief from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to research reviewed by Philip Schoenfeld, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of the training program in GI epidemiology gastroenterology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine at Ann Arbor,who spoke this week at a joint conference of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and the American Gastroenterological Association in Coronado, California.
By the time they turn to a specialist for help, typical patients have had numerous diagnostic tests that all turned out normal, said Schoenfeld. They’ve tried laxatives and diets with extra fiber and no lactose, as well as eliminating some foods, said Schoenfeld.
“This is my average patient,” said Schoenfeld. “Yesterday there was a pathway to my door. Patients like this are usually between 20 to 40 years old. They have cramping and bloating most days and they often frequently have overlap symptoms of dyspepsia or nausea.”
While using drugs to curb constipation and diarrhea along with dietary changes is a good initial approach to management for IBS, Schoenfeld offered additional treatment suggestions that might work for those patients still struggling with symptoms. For example, a patient who has severe IBS will not get a good response from general or vague instructions on use of constipation medicine like Miralax, he said.