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Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Bile Acid Binding Medicines

Topic Overview

Bile acids, which are normally present in the digestive tract, stimulate the colon. Bile acid binding agents prevent bile acids from stimulating the colon, which slows the passage of stools and relieves diarrhea. It is not common for bile to cause this problem, but if it does, these medicines can help. They usually are not tried soon after a person is diagnosed. But if symptoms don't improve with usual treatment, they may be tried.

Bile acid binding agents, such as cholestyramine (such as Prevalite), are mixed with water and may be taken several times a day.

These medicines are usually prescribed to treat high cholesterol. Side effects include nausea, bloating, gas, feelings of fullness, abdominal (belly) pain, and constipation. These side effects may be similar to the symptoms that the medicine is intended to treat.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
Last Revised April 26, 2012

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