Linzess is a prescription medication used to treat irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). Linzess is approved for adults and is administered with one capsule a day, which should be taken at least 30 minutes prior to the first meal of the day.1

Linzess is not a laxative, although both laxatives and medications like Linzess work to relieve constipation. Linzess is a guanylate cyclase-C (GC-C) agonist. Guanylate cyclase is an enzyme found in the lining of the intestines, and an agonist stimulates the response.2 As a GC-C agonist, Linzess is thought to bind to the receptor sites in the intestines, which creates two effects: reducing the amount of pain felt by helping calm the pain-sensing nerves, and accelerating bowel movements by increasing the fluid in the intestinal space.1,2

In clinical trials, Linzess showed significant reduction in abdominal pain and in easing constipation among patients with IBS-C. Patients taking Linzess were more likely to experience more frequent and complete bowel movements compared to patients on a placebo.1

Possible Side Effects with Linzess

The most common side effect with Linzess is diarrhea, which can sometimes be severe. Diarrhea often begins within the first two weeks of taking Linzess, and patients who experience severe diarrhea should stop taking Linzess and call their doctor.1

Other common side effects experienced with Linzess treatment are:

  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling
  • Feeling of fullness or pressure in the abdomen

Rarely, severe abdominal pain or bloody or black stools may be experienced with Linzess. Patients are advised to go to the emergency room or call their doctor if they experience these adverse effects.1

Taking Linzess

Linzess was studied and found to be effective when taken daily, generally at the same time of day, prior to the first meal. When taken daily, Linzess may help manage the symptoms of IBS-C. If a dose is missed, patients should skip that dose and continue with the next dose at the regular time the next day. Patients should not take two doses at the same time.1

It may be helpful to put it in a place where it is visible as a reminder to take it daily, however, patients are instructed to keep Linzess out of the reach of children. In addition, Linzess should be kept in its original bottle and stored at room temperature.1

Who Shouldn’t Take Linzess

Linzess should not be used for children 17 years of age or younger as it may harm them. Linzess is also not to be used in patients who have a bowel blockage. It is unknown if Linzess is safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their doctor before using Linzess.1

Research on Linzess

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Linzess for the treatment of IBS-C in adults in 2012 based on two clinical trials. A total of 1,604 patients (90% women) were randomly chosen to take either Linzess or a placebo (harmless pill that produces no physical effect) for at least 12 weeks. Results showed that patients who took Linzess were 7-25% more likely to experience relief from their constipation and abdominal pain symptoms than those patients who were taking placebo.1,3

Additional Treatment Options for IBS

No one remedy works for all patients, and patients with IBS often find they must try a variety of treatment options to manage their symptoms. Most patients find a combination of approaches work best. In addition to medication, other treatment strategies include diet changes, probiotics, stress management, exercise and alternative therapies.

Written by: Emily Downward | Last reviewed: June 2016.
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