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Rifaximin Can Treat Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In irritable bowel syndrome patients, antibiotic reduces bloating

TUESDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can be alleviated by treatment with the gut-selective antibiotic rifaximin, according to the results of a study published in the Oct. 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Mark Pimentel, M.D., of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of 87 patients with irritable bowel syndrome who received either 400 mg of rifaximin three times a day for 10 days, or a placebo.

The results of the treatment were measured using a questionnaire administered before treatment and seven days after treatment, and a weekly symptom diary that the patients kept for 10 weeks. Overall, there was an improvement in symptoms for those in the treatment group, and patients experienced less bloating than before treatment. The improvements were sustained over 10 weeks.

The authors concede that the study had only a small sample size and short duration, and call for further studies on a larger scale. "This new concept of irritable bowel syndrome treatment will warrant future studies that allow for head-to-head comparison of antibiotics to other treatment strategies for irritable bowel syndrome, such as prokinetics and probiotics," they write.

The study was supported by a grant from Salix Pharmaceuticals.

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