Linzess side effects and how to avoid them
Linzess can cause adverse reactions. The more common side effects tend to be mild and restricted to the bowels as the medication is not absorbed easily into your blood. Learn more about the most common Linzess side effects and how to avoid them.
What is Linzess?
Linzess (linaclotide) is the brand name of a prescription medication manufactured by AbbVie and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals. It is used to treat constipation but it is not a laxative. Most often it’s prescribed for:
- Chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC)
- Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBSC)
Linzess helps with constipation by reducing any pain in the bowels and by causing more liquid to enter your bowels from your body. This softens your stools and makes them easier to pass. The medication is swallowed as a capsule when you have an empty stomach. It’s usually taken once a day, before your first meal.
If someone is constipated, they find it difficult to pass a stool. Their stools may be hard and dry, and they may feel bloated and in pain. This can lead to the development of hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and fecal impaction. Chronic constipation is constipation that lasts several weeks or longer. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of conditions that can cause abdominal pain and bowel problems, including constipation. You should not use linaclotide if you have a blockage in your intestines.
More information on what is Linzess
What doses of Linzess are available?
Linzess is available in capsule form, in the following doses: 72 mcg, 145 mcg, and 290 mcg.
The recommended Linzess dosage in adults will depend on the condition being treated. Linzess is not recommended for pediatric patients younger than 18 years of age. You should take this medication on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes before your first meal of the day.
Do not crush or chew the capsule or the contents of the capsule. If you have problems swallowing capsules whole or have a nasogastric or gastrostomy tube, refer to the full prescribing information for how to open the capsule, and how to take it with applesauce or water.
Linzess active ingredients
Linzess belongs to a group of medications called guanylate cyclase-C agonists. The active ingredient in Linzess is called linaclotide. Linaclotide isn’t easily absorbed by your body, but this is a good thing. It means the drug reaches your bowels where it can do its work, rather than being absorbed and dispersed around your body.
When linaclotide reaches your bowels it binds to the cells in the walls of your gut to stimulate bowel movements. Once there, it increases the amount of water and other fluids that pass from your body into your bowels, softening your stools. It does this by increasing the secretion of chloride and water. It also decreases the activity of sensory cells in your bowels, reducing any pain felt.
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Linzess side effects
From clinical trial data, typical side effects can include:
- Gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea, bloating (abdominal distension), stomach pain, flatulence, dizziness
- Infection side effects such as sinusitis, and upper respiratory tract infection
Less common side effects include:
- Viral gastroenteritis
- Allergic reactions e.g. hives
- Severe diarrhea
- Severe stomach pain
Although diarrhea is a common side effect of Linzess, it should pass. If it lasts for more than seven days, and you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or faint (signs of dehydration), or if your diarrhea is severe, stop taking the medication and contact your physician. Diarrhea caused by Linzess can stop other medications from working properly, especially medicines with exact doses. If side effects persist you may be offered an alternative drug such as Amitiza.
Prolonged diarrhea could stop birth control medication from working, so you should use other methods of contraception when taking Linzess. It is unknown if this medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-FDA-1088).
How to avoid Linzess side effects
While completely avoiding Linzess side effects may not be possible, there are some things you can do to reduce their severity:
1. Stick to the recommended dosage
Take your prescribed dose that has been recommended by your healthcare professional every morning 30 minutes before your first meal of the day. Sticking to this timing and taking your medication consistently will make a big difference in how well Linzess works for you.
If you miss a dose of this medicine, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses. Refer to the medication guide for more drug information.
2. Store Linzess correctly
Linzess should be stored at room temperature in a dry place in its original container. Knowing how to properly store your medication is important to make sure it remains as effective as possible. Taking expired or improperly stored medication could result in the medication not working properly and may even cause unwanted side effects. It’s also important to leave the drying agent that comes in the bottle inside of the bottle to prevent excess moisture from affecting the medication. The bottle should be closed tightly.
3. Discuss medical history
Discussing your medical history with your healthcare provider is important to help them understand how well Linzess will work for you. Give a complete list of all the prescription drugs, including over-the-counter meds, supplements, and medical conditions you may have. Talking with your doctor will allow them to pick up any drug interactions with Linzess that may increase possible side effects.
4. Pay attention to your body
Paying attention to how your body feels when taking Linzess is important. Talk to your doctor straight away if you start to experience any side effects of Linzess when taking it.