Until recently, Zelnorm, a drug made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, had been approved for treating both groups of patients. But on March 30, the company pulled it from the market after new data indicated an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and death. Gastroenterologists say the move leaves a gap in treatment options, particularly for treating women with IBS with constipation.
Like anything else, constipation can vary in frequency and severity, and only when it becomes "a real problem" will people need to seek referrals for specialty tests and treatment, Wald said. In fact, he added, most people may find relief on the shelves of their local pharmacy or grocery store. They can try stimulant laxatives or polyethylene glycol, an over-the-counter stool softener. There are also natural stimulants like raisins and prunes.
And there's always fiber.
"Diet doesn't work in every scenario," Rao said, "but for occasional constipation, that is the group that I think diet will be effective for."
For more on constipation, visit the American Gastroenterological Association.
SOURCES: Arnold Wald, M.D., professor of medicine, section of gastroenterology and hepatology, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Satish S.C. Rao, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine and director, neurogastroenterology and gastrointestinal motility, University of Iowa, Iowa City; Henry P. Parkman, M.D., professor of medicine and director, GI Motility Laboratory, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia; American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, Arlington Heights, Ill.; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, Md.; March 2007, '/>"/>
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