What is Linzess?
Linzess is a prescription medicine used to treat constipation. If your doctor has prescribed Linzess medication to you, you may want to know more about what it is and how it works. Here we detail everything you need to know about Linzess, including what it’s used for, how the medication works, any potential side effects, and more.
If there is anything else you need to know, we’ll also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Linzess.
What is Linzess used for?
Linzess is a medicine prescribed to adults to treat chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) and constipation caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C).
Constipation is when your bowel movements are difficult, and you struggle to pass your stools. It can make you feel bloated, full, and can cause pain and distress. Prolonged constipation can lead to problems like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and a more serious form of constipation called fecal impaction.
Chronic idiopathic constipation is long-lasting (chronic) constipation that can affect you for several weeks, months, or even longer. ‘Idiopathic’ means the constipation has no known, definite cause. Chronic idiopathic constipation usually doesn’t occur with any other symptoms apart from the constipation.
In some cases, constipation can be caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a group of chronic conditions that give you gastrointestinal problems, like bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation. If this is the case, constipation is one symptom amongst your IBS symptoms.
If you have constipation, either without a known cause, or caused by IBS, Linzess can help you. It softens your stools, helping you pass them more easily, speeds up how quickly stools pass through your bowels, and reduces any pain and discomfort your constipation causes. Linzess is swallowed as a capsule, usually once a day, when needed.
How does Linzess work?
Linzess contains an active ingredient called linaclotide. When you take Linzess, it passes through your digestive system until it reaches your bowels (intestines), where it breaks down and releases linaclotide.
Linaclotide molecules attach to the surface of your bowel cells at sites called receptors. This stimulates the receptors, which makes them release a substance called cGMP, which causes more water to be absorbed into your bowels. This softens your stools and makes them move through your bowels faster.
cGMP also reduces the activity of the nerve cells in your bowels, reducing the discomfort and pain you feel. This also encourages contraction of the smooth muscle tissue in your bowels, which also promotes bowel movements.
How long does it take for Linzess to work for constipation?
Linzess will work at different speeds for different people, depending on the severity of the constipation and how you react to the medication.
Typically, Linzess works quickly. Some people feel the benefits of Linzess the day they start taking it, although it can take up to two weeks to take effect on other people.
Alternatives to Linzess
Linzess is an effective treatment for constipation for many people, but there are alternatives available. The most common prescription alternatives to Linzess are:
- Amitiza (lubiprostone), a prescription medication taken to treat chronic idiopathic constipation
- Enulose, Kristalose, Cholac, Generlac, Consulose, and Duphalac (all contain lactulose) which can be taken to treat constipation and a range or related problems
How much does Linzess cost?
Without insurance, prices for Linzess can vary by retailer, but as a guide, a bottle of 30 Linzess capsules, at either 72 mcg, 145 mcg, or 290 mcg strengths, will cost around $600.
If you have insurance, the cost of Linzess will vary depending on your healthcare plan. To find out what you may need to pay, your insurance provider or pharmacist will be able to calculate your copay with your current insurance.
Whatever your situation, if you’re approved for the Linzess patient assistance program, you’ll likely save more if you get your Linzess medication through Prescription Care. With Prescription Care you’ll always pay a flat monthly fee of $49.
What are the side effects of Linzess?
The most common Linzess side effects include:
- Flatulence (gas)
- Feeling bloated
- A feeling of fullness or pressure in your stomach (distention)
- Stomach pain
Diarrhea is a common Linzess side effect, but it usually passes after the first two weeks of taking the medication. If your diarrhea lasts for longer and you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or faint (signs of dehydration), stop taking the medication and contact your physician.
In rare instances, Linzess can cause more serious side effects, including:
- Allergic reactions to Linzess
- Severe diarrhea
- Severe stomach pain
Your doctor will assess your risk of side effects versus the benefits of taking Linzess.
How to take Linzess?
Always take Linzess exactly as directed by the doctor who prescribed it to you.
Linzess comes as a capsule you swallow. You usually take one capsule a day in the morning, on an empty stomach, 30 minutes before you eat. The capsule should be swallowed whole and not crushed or chewed up.
If you have difficulties swallowing capsules or tablets, the Linzess capsules can be opened and the beads of medicine they contain can be poured into a 30 ml glass of water or into a teaspoon of room temperature applesauce. Linzess can also be taken through a nasogastric or gastrostomy feeding tube. Talk to your doctor for more information about taking Linzess in these ways.
How to take Linzess at night?
Linzess is typically taken in the morning before your first meal. Talk to your doctor if you want to take Linzess at a different time of day.
Linzess capsules come in three strengths: 72 mcg, 145 mcg, or 290 mcg.
The recommended dosage for adults with chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) is one 145 mcg capsule per day. The recommended dosage for adults with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) is one 290 mcg capsule per day.
Please note, these are general recommended doses, but your doctor will tell you what Linzess dose to take. They may prescribe you a lower dose if they feel it’s more suitable, or they may change your dose after seeing how you respond to the medication.
What if I miss a Linzess dose?
If you miss a dose of Linzess, wait until the next day/next dose before taking any more. Don’t take a double dose of Linzess, and don’t take a dose when you realize you’ve missed one, as you may take it too close to your next dose and risk a Linzess overdose.
What if Linzess doesn’t work?
If Linzess isn’t working for you after taking it for two weeks, talk to your doctor. Don’t increase your dose yourself or try taking Linzess more often, as you may take too much Linzess and risk a Linzess overdose.
If you take too much Linzess (a Linzess overdose), you increase your risk of side effects, including serious side effects (see Linzess side effects above). If you’ve taken too much Linzess, you should seek emergency medical attention.
What should I avoid while taking Linzess?
There are no specific foods or drinks you need to avoid when taking Linzess, although the medication is usually more effective when taken on an empty stomach rather than with food or drink. If certain foods make your constipation or IBS worse, you should limit these foods when taking Linzess to get the best results from the medication.
There are certain medications you should avoid when taking Linzess, as they may interact with Linzess. See Linzess interactions below for more information.
Can I take Linzess and coffee together?
It’s advised to take Linzess on an empty stomach in the morning before you eat or drink anything. You should wait 30 minutes after taking Linzess before you eat or drink, including having coffee.
Linzess can interact with other medications. This can change how Linzess and the other medications work and can make some side effects more likely, or more severe.
Tell your prescribing physician about all the drugs you’re taking, especially:
- Any other medications you’re taking to treat your constipation
- Any medications that can increase the risk of diarrhea, including laxatives, medicines for stomach ulcers, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or naproxen
If you’re unsure whether you’re taking any of these, take the packaging of all your medications and supplements to your doctor or pharmacist.
Diarrhea caused by Linzess can stop other medications from working properly, especially medicines with exact doses. Talk to your doctor if you have severe or long-lasting diarrhea. Prolonged diarrhea could stop the contraceptive pill from working. Talk to your doctor about alternative methods of contraception when taking Linzess.
Linzess isn’t suitable for everyone. Don’t take Linzess if you:
- Are allergic to the active ingredient linaclotide
- Are allergic to any of the other ingredients found in Linzess
- Have a blockage in your stomach or bowels
- Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
- Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed
- Are under the age of 18
Talk to your physician before taking Linzess if you:
- Are taking any of the medications that could interact with Linzess (see Linzess interactions above)
- Have severe or prolonged diarrhea caused by another condition
- Have heart disease or a disease of the blood vessels
- Have a disease of the bowels that causes inflammation, like Crohn’s disease
- Are over 65 years of age
Linzess expiration and storage
Store your Linzess medication at room temperature – between 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C) – in a dry location in the bottle it comes in.
Your Linzess bottle contains a desiccant packet to help keep your medication dry and to protect it from moisture. Don’t remove the desiccant packet from the bottle. Keep your Linzess out of the sight and reach of children. Don’t use your Linzess after the expiry date on the packaging. The expiry date refers to the last day of that month.
What exactly does Linzess do?
When you take Linzess, it binds to the surface of your bowel cells and encourages more water to be absorbed into your bowels. This softens your stools and speeds up how quickly they move through you. Linzess also stimulates your smooth muscle tissue, helping you pass stools, and calms the nerve cells in your bowels, acting as a painkiller.
Will Linzess help me poop?
Linzess is a prescription medication used to relieve constipation when you struggle to pass your stools. It softens your stools and speeds up how quickly they pass through your bowels, so yes, for most people, Linzess can help them poop more easily.
Does Linzess work immediately?
Linzess can work quickly, and some people may see improvements in their constipation within 24 hours of taking it. Most people feel the effects of Linzess within two weeks of taking it.
Is Linzess dangerous?
All medications can cause side effects, including serious side effects. However, Linzess is generally a well-tolerated drug as it’s primarily absorbed when it reaches your bowels and it mostly stays in your bowels. Very little Linzess is absorbed into your bloodstream and carried around your body, which limits unwanted side effects. The most common side effect caused by Linzess is diarrhea, which usually passes as your body adjusts to the medication.
Does Linzess make you gain weight?
Linzess can cause weight changes as a side effect – it’s been reported to cause both weight loss in some people and weight gain in others. You won’t know if Linzess will cause you to lose or gain weight, or neither until you take it. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about weight gain, weight loss, or any other Linzess side effects.
How long to use Linzess for weight loss?
Linzess is not approved as a weight loss medication by the FDA and shouldn’t be used as a weight-loss treatment. Talk to your doctor if you want to lose weight.
How much water should you drink with Linzess?
Drinking water can help ease constipation. You can take your Linzess with a glass of water, then wait 30 minutes before you eat or drink anything else. You may find your constipation eases if you then continue to drink water throughout the day and stay well hydrated.