Adults who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with constipation may receive treatment with Linzess. This prescription drug is also used to treat chronic idiopathic constipation in adults. This medicine works by binding to and activating certain enzymes in the intestines, accelerating movement of content through the intestines. Linzess should not be used in children younger than 18 years old.
What Is Linzess Used For?
Linzess for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a common chronic condition of the colon. The condition causes uncomfortable symptoms in the abdomen (stomach) and intestines, including abdominal (stomach) pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation (see Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms). Although these symptoms can be quite disabling, IBS does not permanently harm the intestines, and does not increase the risk for cancer or other serious health problems.
IBS is a chronic condition, which means it cannot be cured. Symptoms may not always be present, and can vary in severity. To be diagnosed with IBS, a person must have symptoms at least three days out of the month.
Many people can control their symptoms through lifestyle management. For example, certain food may cause symptoms in some people, so limiting or avoiding those foods can help reduce symptoms (see Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet for more information about how your food choices may affect your symptoms). Managing stress is also an important part of treatment, as stress can trigger symptoms in many people.
IBS may be separated into subgroups based on whether a person's main symptom is diarrhea or constipation (or both). Linzess is specifically used to treat IBS with constipation. It is not likely to improve symptoms in someone with diarrhea-predominate IBS.
Linzess for Chronic Idiopathic Constipation
It's not uncommon for most everyone to experience constipation at one time or another. In most cases, constipation is temporary, and either goes away on its own, or can be easily relieved with diet, lifestyle changes, or the short-term use of nonprescription medications (see Constipation Relief). However, for some people, constipation is ongoing or keeps coming back.
Constipation that is ongoing or keeps coming back is called chronic constipation. Constipation is generally considered chronic if a person has infrequent stools, difficulty passing stools, or both for at least three months. A person who is having difficulty passing stools may find that they have to strain to have a bowel movement, have hard, lumpy stools, or feel that their bowels aren't completely empty.
There are many possible causes of chronic constipation. People with certain medical conditions, such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis (MS), may experience regular constipation. Several prescription and nonprescription medicines can also cause constipation, including narcotic pain medicines, some blood pressure medicines, and iron and calcium supplements.
(Click Causes of Constipation to read about common factors that can contribute to constipation.)
In some cases, healthcare providers cannot find an underlying cause to a person's constipation. Chronic idiopathic constipation is the term used to describe chronic constipation without a known cause. Linzess is approved to treat chronic idiopathic constipation in adults. Although it does not cure the condition, it can help relieve symptoms.