According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse government website, irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder characterized commonly by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Nearly 20% of the adult population in the U.S. suffers from IBS symptoms, many of which do not get regular treatment. Recent studies suggest that IBS can now be treated using targeted antibiotics to relieve symptoms for weeks at a time.
Is IBS a serious problem for sufferers?
IBS symptoms are often so severe that it often inhibits anyone suffering from the symptoms from enjoying a normal life. IBS sufferers often have a very tough time with bowel movements with symptoms lasting over an hour in some cases during each episode. My brother currently suffers from IBS and has had it for many years now, which has caused a lot of personal stress and missed activities due to severe symptoms.
What does the new study reveal about antibiotic treatment?
According to Science Daily and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, antibiotics are being used as a long-term treatment for severe symptoms of IBS. Rifaximin is currently the first drug being used in clinical tests, which have resulted in symptoms subsiding weeks after treatment. The antibiotics are specifically targeted for “altered gut bacteria in IBS”. The altered gut bacteria are a recently known cause for IBS, whereas previously the cause for IBS has not been well documented. The gut bacteria are overgrown in patients with IBS; the antibiotics control the overabundance of the bacteria, which relieves common IBS symptoms.
How long do symptoms subside with antibiotic treatment?
Patients who contributed in the study were offered either a placebo or Rifaximin and studied to see if symptoms subsided better with the use of antibiotics over placebo use. The antibiotics were shown to decrease symptoms of IBS suffers for 10-weeks after treatment, which supports the original findings of overblown gut bacteria growth being a cause for IBS.
Why should patients use antibiotic treatment?
Since severe IBS symptoms are not as easily treated, antibiotics are looking like a promising treatment for IBS. According to the same study by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, symptoms subsided for patients over the 10-week period where no antibiotic treatment was administered. This is promising because patients with IBS will have long-term treatment available, whereas current treatment did not help all cases of IBS. However, the use of antibiotics on a regular basis is a debated topic on whether it is a safe solution for long-term treatment.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (2010, May 8). Antibiotic prevents irritable bowel syndrome symptoms for weeks after final dose.
ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 22, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/05/100504095220.htm