How does Western medicine treat irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome is not a condition that can be cured by standard medical practices, primarily because there is no single condition and there is therefore no single causative ‘root’ that can be attacked. Instead, for anyone who suffers from IBS, it is all about managing their condition so that they can live a life that is as normal as possible.
Every individual irritable bowel syndrome sufferer is different. Thus, the factors that might cause one IBS sufferer to suffer diarrhea or constipation might have no effect whatsoever on others who have nevertheless been diagnosed with exactly the same condition.
For this reason, managing irritable bowel syndrome can involve one of many different changes or factors, with the changes or factors that are most appropriate to you depending upon the primary cause of your condition.
We will look at many of these potential changes later but before doing so, let us consider some of the medicinal solutions that your doctor might recommend to help you manage your irritable bowel syndrome problem.
Once again, the medicines that your doctor might prescribe or recommend will to a large extent depend upon the prevalence of symptoms that you as an individual display.
For example, if your primary problem is diarrhea, then the medicines that your doctor prescribes will target this particular aspect of your suffering. If on the other hand you suffer regular bouts of constipation, then prescribing a medicine to deal with diarrhea is going to be a very bad idea indeed! Obviously, your doctor would prescribe or recommend something more appropriate to your own personal situation and circumstances.
Of course, if you suspect irritable bowel syndrome and visit your doctor for a diagnosis (which is to be recommended), you already know what your primary symptoms are. After all, you have been living with them for several months, so who knows better than you?
Hence, from your own personal knowledge, you should be able to form some idea of the kind of medicines your doctor most needs to prescribe if you visit their office because you suspect that you have irritable bowel syndrome.
Medicines for diarrhea
If the primary symptom from which you suffer is diarrhea, your doctor is likely to prescribe one or a mixture of several different types of medicine.
The initial medicines to consider are anti-diarrheal pharmaceuticals such as Lomotil or Imodium.
The first of these brand-named products is a mixture of two chemicals, diphenoxylate and atropine. In combination, these two drugs slow intestinal movements, thereby interfering with the passage of matter through the digestive system as a method of reducing diarrhea.
In general terms, the worst side-effects that most people suffer after taking diphenoxylate are headaches, dizziness and drowsiness. However, you should be aware that this particular substance is treated as a regulated narcotic drug in most Western countries, and that like all other narcotics, it can cause a feeling of being ‘high’ and euphoria with worsening drug dependency not being unknown either.
Furthermore, if you are taking a Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (an MOA) like phenelzine (Nardil) or procarbazine (Matulane), you should be aware that taken in combination, these drugs can cause severe high blood pressure which might in the worst case scenario lead to a stroke and/or death.
The active chemical ingredient in Imodium is Loperamide which works by putting the brakes on the muscular contractions in your intestine by limiting the activity of the opioid receptors in the muscles lining them. As with most medicines, at normal dosage levels, Imodium is safe for 99.9% of people who take it. However, as it is a drug that is often available over the counter as well as by prescription, you do need to exercise a little more care if you are not under medical attention was taking this drug.
For example, if you start to take Imodium and your diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours, you should seek medical advice as the medicine is apparently not working. In addition, Imodium can cause adverse side-effects such as dizziness, abdominal cramps or swelling, constipation, indigestion, nausea and vomiting and in a very small number of cases, total paralysis of the intestine. In all of these situations, you should seek immediate medical attention.