Can gabapentin be used for IBS?

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In this blog post, we are going to talk about the safety and efficacy of gabapentin for the treatment and management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). We will also discuss what researchers have discovered so far and what are the most common side effects of gabapentin. 

Can gabapentin be used for IBS? 

Yes, Gabapentin can be used for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Many researchers have monitored the effects of gabapentin in the management of IBS and have observed positive results. 

What does research suggest? 

A 2014 study indicated that gabapentin can not only be used for the treatment of gastrointestinal symptoms associated with IBS, but it can significantly tone down the systemic anxiety that can be a problem caused by IBS. 

Another 2017 study also monitored the effects of gabapentin and a few other medications that can be used for the management of IBS symptoms. The study concluded that gabapentin is quite effective in the treatment of gastrointestinal symptoms of IBS. 

Another study concluded that gabapentin can be used to tone down the intensity of pain caused by IBS. The pain with this syndrome can get so severe that it can significantly decrease the quality of life. Studies suggest that gabapentin can help with such pain. 

What actually is IBS and what are the signs and symptoms associated with it? 

IBS or Irritable bowel syndrome is a syndrome of the digestive system. It is a chronic condition that develops over time and does not go away that easy. 

This syndrome is not associated with a single or one type of symptom. It actually comes with a number of symptoms and conditions, affecting your digestive health and bowel movements. IBS is associated with the following signs and symptoms:

Abnormal bowel movements

People with IBS suffer from abnormal bowel movements. These include:

  • Diarrhoea 
  • Constipation 
  • Frequent urge to pass stool
  • Inability to have a complete bowel movement
  • Pain during a bowel movement 
  • Bleeding
  • Anal fissure or fistula
  • Haemorrhoids 
  • Burning sensation in anal canal

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Stomach pain is one of the most common symptoms of IBS. The intensity of pain varies from person to person. Some people feel excruciating pain while others have mild pain. 

Some people complain of certain foods to trigger abdominal pain. Flatulence and bloating are also included in gastrointestinal symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. 

Psychological symptoms 

IBS is surely associated with psychological symptoms. The pain and discomfort associated with IBS can trigger anxiety episodes in some people. 

The treatment duration or failure can also cause depression in some people as it’s not that easy to live with disturbing symptoms of IBS. 

Experts also believe that anxiety and depression can exacerbate the gastrointestinal symptoms of IBS and make them even more pronounced. 

Who’s at risk of developing IBS? 

Following people are at risk of developing IBS. These include:

Age

People who are older than 40 years of age are more susceptible to developing IBS, but IBS can affect people younger than that as well. 

Gender 

Women are more likely to suffer from IBS as compared to men. It is probably because of the fact that women undergo way more hormonal changes than men throughout their life. 

Poor mental health 

Prolonged stress and anxiety can make negative changes in your gastrointestinal tract which can result in a number of digestive illnesses, one of which include IBS. 

Certain foods 

Certain foods can trigger IBS symptoms in people like lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, spicy and greasy foods, excessive use of alcohol, caffeine and carbonated sodas etc.

It is recommended to stay away from foods that could exacerbate your IBS symptoms. 

What are other treatment options for IBS?

There is no specific treatment of IBS. Multiple medications are considered to help relieve the symptoms of IBS. these meds include:

Antidepressants

Antidepressants can be used to treat the symptoms of IBS, especially it can help relieve constipation in people with IBS. SSRIs and Tricyclic antidepressants are also used, in fact, TCAs are preferred over SSRIs. 

They can help reduce gastrointestinal symptoms, psychological symptoms and can help relieve pain associated with IBS.

Anticholinergic agents

Anticholinergic agents, like bentyl, levsin etc, can be used to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms of IBS. These drugs can help relax GIT muscles and can decrease intestinal motility which  can help in ibs associated diarrhoea.

Anxiolytics

Anxiolytics or antianxiety agents are also used to treat ibs associated anxiety these agents include ativan, valium etc. However, the prolonged use of benzodiazepines is not recommended because they can produce dependence and your body craves the drug in its absence. 

Antidiarrheal agents

These meds, as the name indicates, are used to treat diarrhoeal symptoms of IBS. imodium is most commonly used. It is recommended to use these meds when they are absolutely needed, otherwise should not be used. If you do take them, do not deviate from the dose directed by your doctor.

Alosetron

Alosetron is approved to be used in the treatment of IBS associated diarrhoea in women. 

What not to eat when you suffer from IBS? 

Following foods and drinks can contribute to the gastrointestinal symptoms of IBS. These include:

  • Caffeine
  • Dairy products like milk and cheese
  • Alcohol 
  • Spicy foods including red peppers
  • Wheat 

There are other foods that might act as trigger factors of IBS symptoms. These foods vary from person to person so, avoid eating anything that can exacerbate the symptoms of IBS in your body. 

How can diet help with IBS? 

It is extremely important to watch what you eat. Foods can have a huge impact on your IBS. For some people, lactose acts as a trigger factor so it is recommended for them to limit or sometimes completely stop using dairy products. 

If you come to realise that stopping lactose does not make your symptoms any better, you can continue using it. Doctors usually recommend to stop using foods that can increase bloating or flatulence. Such foods include beans, cabbage, eggs, cauliflower, bananas, radish, prunes, wheat etc.

During the episode of IBS, it is recommended to eat foods that you can tolerate well. Now, this varies from person to person and how their stomach reacts to food. 

Some people cannot tolerate foods which are often tolerated by other people battling with IBS. It is advised to increase your fibre intake and foods which act as a good source of probiotics for your gut health. 

What is the importance of psychological therapy for IBS? 

Psychological therapy and counselling comes in handy when people have correlation between IBS, depression and anxiety. Different therapy sessions are conducted to help relieve the symptoms of IBS psychologically. 

What are the side effects associated with the use of gabapentin? 

  • Xerostomia or dry mouth 
  • Weight gain 
  • Dizziness 
  • Somnolence
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Headache
  • Vision problems 
  • Cloudy mind
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors 
  • Confusion
  • Joint pain 
  • Difficulty in remembering things
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Unsteadiness
  • Muscle twitching 
  • Constipation 
  • Back pain
  • Increased appetite 
  • Fever

Gabapentin can cause some serious side effects. These include:

  • Suicidal behavior 
  • Impaired motor coordination 
  • Thrombocytopenia or decreased levels of platelets
  • Water retention
  • Rhabdomyolysis, a condition associated with abnormal breakdown of muscles
  • Convulsions 
  • Swelling or tenderness in different parts of the body.
  • Allergic reaction associated with symptoms like redness of skin, itching, burning sensation, blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness etc. 

Conclusion 

In this blog post, we have discussed the safety and efficacy of gabapentin in the treatment and management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 

Many researchers have monitored the effects of gabapentin in the management of IBS and have observed positive results. IBS should be managed as it can give rise to several complications. Make sure you watch what you eat. 

It is extremely important to detect your trigger foods and avoid eating them. It is also recommended to avoid spicy greasy food as it could exacerbate the gastrointestinal symptoms of IBS.

Make sure you stick to the dose prescribed by your doctor. Every medication has its own side effects. It’s best to avoid overuse or use when it’s not absolutely necessary. 

FAQs: gabapentin for ibs 

Does gabapentin help with bowel problems?

Yes, Gabapentin can be used for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Many researchers have monitored the effects of gabapentin in the management of IBS and have observed positive results. 

A 2014 study indicated that gabapentin can not only be used for the treatment of gastrointestinal symptoms associated with IBS, but it can significantly tone down the systemic anxiety that can be a problem caused by IBS.

What is the best medicine for IBS D?

Alosetron is approved to be used in the treatment of IBS associated diarrhoea in women and can be quite effective in some individuals. 

Can you take gabapentin forever?

The duration of your treatment with gabapentin depends on the severity of your condition and how well you can tolerate this medication. Some people can not stand the long-term treatment because of the disturbing side effects, whereas others can function really well with this medication and they can use it for years. 

What does gabapentin do to a person?

Gabapentin is a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog. Gabapentin mimics the actions of GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA works by inhibiting the excessive neuronal firing in the brain which reduces the frequency of epileptic seizures. 

Gabapentin is also used to reduce the intensity of neuropathic pain by inhibiting nociceptors (pain receptors). This medication is a prescription medication and should be taken only at doses determined by your healthcare professional. 

Is it difficult to get off gabapentin?

It can be difficult to get off gabapentin because it might produce dependence, especially in people who have been taking this medication for a long time now. It is advised to not stop this medication abruptly. Sudden withdrawal can lead to the relapse of epileptic seizures and you can also suffer from tremors and other psychological symptoms. 

Why should you not take gabapentin?

Gabapentin is associated with a number of side effects and some people may not be able to tolerate this medication at all. These include:

  • Xerostomia or dry mouth 
  • Weight gain 
  • Dizziness 
  • Somnolence
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Headache
  • Vision problems 
  • Cloudy mind
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors 
  • Confusion
  • Joint pain 
  • Difficulty in remembering things
  • Abdominal pain 

References 

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