How to treat travellers’ diarrhoea or IBS

Written by: Dr Aathavan Loganayagam
Published: | Updated: 21/09/2023
Edited by: Laura Burgess

Travellers’ diarrhoea is one of the commonest illnesses to occur in those who travel overseas and is usually the result of the consumption of bacteria-contaminated food or water. The condition is also an important risk factor for the development of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

However, you do not need to let the threat of travellers’ diarrhoea or an IBS flare-up stop you from travelling to exotic locations or living your everyday life. The antibiotic Rifaximin can be taken to shorten the duration of diarrhoea and manage symptoms of IBS, such as flatulence as bloating. Here, leading London gastroenterologist Dr Aathavan Loganayagam explains how the drug works.



How does Rifaximin work?

Rifaximin treats travellers’ diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome by stopping the growth of the bacteria that cause diarrhoea. It treats hepatic encephalopathy by stopping the growth of bacteria that produce toxins, which may worsen liver disease.

Rifaximin is a nonabsorbable, broad-spectrum antimicrobial that inhibits bacterial RNA synthesis by binding the β-subunit of microbial RNA polymerase.

It targets the gastrointestinal tract and works by reducing the quantity of gas-producing bacteria and altering the predominant species of bacteria present. In vivo, animal studies suggest additional beneficial mechanisms of Rifaximin, including reducing mucosal inflammation and visceral hypersensitivity.

Clinical studies have demonstrated that Rifaximin improves symptoms associated with IBS, such as bloating, flatulence, stool consistency, and abdominal pain and has a side-effect profile similar to a placebo.

Is Rifaximin safe to take?

Although additional investigation into optimal dosing, treatment duration, and potential resistance is required, Rifaximin presents as a safe and beneficial addition to the current management options for IBS.

Read more: IBS and your gut bacteria

If you would like to discuss your treatment plan options for irritable bowel syndrome, do not hesitate to visit Dr Loganayagam at his clinic.

By Dr Aathavan Loganayagam

Dr Aathavan Loganayagam trained in medicine at Guy’s, King's and St. Thomas’ medical schools. He then underwent rigorous structured specialty training in gastroenterology and general internal medicine in the well respected South London training programme.

He then spent two years during postgraduate training as a research and endoscopy fellow at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals, London. His research was in the fields of pharmacogenetics, inflammatory bowel disease and gastrointestinal malignancy. He has received awards and grants for outstanding research work, including the prestigious NHS Innovation London Award.

Dr Loganayagam has numerous publications in peer reviewed journals on all aspects of gastroenterology. He is actively involved in clinical research. He has particular local expertise in the practice of personalised medicine and the utilisation of novel therapeutic agents in the treatment of complex inflammatory bowel disease. He is currently the lead clinician for endoscopy at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich.

Diagnostic and advanced therapeutic endoscopy remains a major part of his clinical expertise, including assessment and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, strictures, polyps and cancers.

Dr Loganayagam is an approachable doctor who takes pride in his communication skills with patients. He is keen to ensure that patients are fully informed and involved in all aspects of their care.

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