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Can antibiotics treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Dr. Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
Gastroenterologist

A substantial percentage of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients have an overgrowth of bacteria in their small intestines. Research shows treatment with antibiotics to eliminate this overgrowth may help improve symptoms. One small study compared the gut-specific, broad-spectrum antibiotic rifaximin against placebo. Eighty-seven study participants took either rifaximin or placebo for 10 days. Over the 10 weeks of follow-up, people who had taken the antibiotic enjoyed significant improvement in overall symptoms and in bloating in particular compared with those taking placebo, with no notable side effects.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.