Understanding and Managing Pain in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Living with IBS can come with unknown side effects. For example, many are unaware of how opiates can cause painful constipation, which can be easily disguised as a common symptom of IBS. However, what does this mean when you have to be admitted to a hospital? Research now shows opiates can cause a decline in gastric motility, which leads to an increase in contractions, specifically in the antrum and pylorus in the gastric reservoir. Here’s what to know.

How opiates can trigger IBS

The use of opiates can cause narcotic bowel syndrome that can lead patients with an existing IBS condition to result in an increase in constipation and pain, according to MedPageToday after conducting an investigation with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). They found that patients with a functional GI diagnosis (FGID) were 40% more likely to have already or to receive an opioid prescription.

Opioids produce an analgesic effect by activating receptors in the brain and spinal cord, both of which play a role in the modulation of pain. The three primary opioid receptors are mu, delta, and kappa in the gut, lung, cardiac and vascular tissues. Effects caused by opioids that have a high affinity for mu receptors include analgesia (inability to feel pain), euphoria, sedation, respiratory depression, and constipation.

Incorporating the drug into one’s system can result in opioid-induced constipation. 50 to 80 percent of people who take opioid medicines have constipation, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. To receive a diagnosis, ask your healthcare provider for more information, and be sure to disclose all the medicines you currently take.

When to be concerned about prescription pain medication with IBS

Prescription medications are often dispensed in a hospital or clinical practice for treatments. The most common painkillers are oxycodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl. They are usually prescribed in instances of injuries when one arrives at the hospital to help with the recovery process.

If you have a confirmed diagnosis of IBS, make sure to let your physician know to see if there is a way to see which opiates are necessary to be included in your treatment plan. Of course, there are other ways to treat injuries before incorporating opiates, but it is essential to acknowledge that, at times, there won’t be ways around it.