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Treatment - Irritable bowel syndrome

Seeing a dietitian for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

A GP may refer you to a dietitian if general diet tips for IBS are not helping.

They can suggest other changes you can make to your diet to ease your symptoms.

Low FODMAP diet

A dietitian may recommend a diet called a low FODMAP diet.

This involves avoiding foods that are not easily broken down by the gut, such as some types of:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • milk
  • wheat products

IBS medicines from a GP

If pharmacy medicines are not helping, a GP may prescribe a stronger medicine, such as:

  • amitriptyline
  • citalopram

These are antidepressants, but they can also help ease IBS symptoms.

Your GP might also prescribe:

  • Buscopan (hyoscine)
  • Spasmonal (mebeverine)

Both of these medicines are antispasmodic agents that will help with the cramping associated with IBS.

They may take a few weeks to start working and can cause side effects.

Your GP may refer you to a specialist if you have severe symptoms and other medicines have not helped.

Psychological therapies for IBS

If you have had IBS for a long time and other treatments are not helping, a GP may refer you for a talking therapy. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

This can help if stress or anxiety is triggering your symptoms. It can also help you cope with your condition better.

If you prefer, you can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service without seeing a GP. You may have to pay for psychological therapies, especially if you refer yourself.

These offer psychological therapies like CBT for common mental health problems like stress, anxiety and depression.

If you are over 18 and have a medical card, you can be referred to the counselling in primary care service. This service can help with mild to moderate psychological and emotional difficulties.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2021
Next review due: 31 March 2024

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.