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Antibiotic eases IBS pain, study finds

Some people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can benefit from a two-week course of antibiotics, a study has shown.

The Belgian research found that the antibiotic rifaximin gave 41% of patients who took it relief from the symptoms of IBS for up to 10 weeks.

This was compared with just 32% of patients taking fake pills, according to the University of Leuven research.

The findings were based on two large studies involving 1,260 patients with the most common form of IBS - mild to moderate with no constipation.

During the studies patients took 550 milligrams of rifaximin or dummy pills three times a day for two weeks.

The patients were asked whether their symptoms improved over the following four weeks.

The answer from 41% of patients taking rifaximin was that they had felt "adequate relief" from their symptoms for at least two weeks.

Dr Jan Tack of the University of Leuven in Belgium said: "While the response to rifaximin may seem low to outsiders, it's in the range seen with other effective IBS treatments."

The studies were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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NHS Choices: IBS