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Dr. Andrew Rynne
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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Suggest an OTC medication for IBS

Answered by
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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3129 Questions

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Posted on Tue, 7 Jun 2016 in Digestion and Bowels
Question: is their a cross the counter medicine that may be taken for a spastic bowel/irritable bowel
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Some suggestions

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

I am sorry you are having trouble. There are things you can take over the counter without prescription for irritable bowel syndrome. But it is important to see a doctor soon to make sure that your problem is truly IBS and not something else.

Irritable bowel syndrome is an ongoing problem that can wax and wane. It doesn't just occur for several days and then never again. That would be more consistent with a viral or bacterial gastroenteritis.

Irritable bowel syndrome can give symptoms that are predominantly diarrhea or constipation. Some people have a combination of both, but often people have predominantly one or the other.

For treating IBS over time, consistent general exercise, and gradually increasing bulk forming foods such as vegetables, or gradually increasing a fiber supplement such Citrucel or Metamucil can help. I say gradually because having a lot too soon will increase gas and make the problem worse.

So about over-the-counters:
If you are having a lot of diarrhea, try Pepto Bismol (particularly if having infectious symptoms), OR Immodium. Immodium will shut down diarrhea, but can be constipating. About Pepto Bismol, please note that it can make stools look black - this is ok, not harmful. Pepto Bismol can be soothing and may help a bit with the cramps if they are associated with diarrhea, but will not help constipation.

If you are constipated, you can use Dulcolax.

The antispasmodic medications are only by prescription though - not over the counter. But you can get these by going into an urgent care clinic, or by calling your doctor's office. On the weekend you will likely be routed to the doctor on call for your doctor if he/she isn't available.

I see that you are trying milk to settle your bowels. This may not be the best idea as the milk sugar can release gas during it's breakdown, and if you don't have a lot of lactose enzymes, may cause bloating and diarrhea.

If you have been having your symptoms for a while, and have not had a colonoscopy in the last 5 years, you may want to discuss this with your doctor when you go in for evaluation.

I hope this information helps. Please let me know if I can provide further information or clarification.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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