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A Comprehensive Overview of Linzess

Monday 1 April 2024
6 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. What is Linzess?

II. How Linzess Works

III. Linzess Dosage

IV. How to Take Linzess

V. Linzess Side Effects

VI. Conclusion

Dealing with constipation can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience that can significantly disrupt your daily routine. The struggle to maintain regular bowel movements and the discomfort of passing hardened stools can leave you feeling bloated and distressed. In more severe cases, constipation can even lead to serious health issues.

In this article, we will discuss Linzess, an FDA-approved medication designed to treat certain types of constipation. We will dive into how it works, recommended dosages, how to take it properly, and common side effects.

What is Linzess?

Linzess is an oral medication that relieves specific types of constipation by improving bowel movements. [1]

Constipation occurs when you have difficulty passing stools or have fewer bowel movements than normal. It can lead to several uncomfortable symptoms like bloating and abdominal fullness. In severe cases, constipation may result in complications such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or fecal impaction. [2]

Linzess was approved by the FDA in 2012 to treat:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) in adults
  • Chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) in adults
  • Functional constipation (FC) in children above six years of age [1]

Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C)

Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, or IBS-C, is a specific form of irritable bowel syndrome that primarily involves symptoms of constipation. With IBS-C, you may go through periods where you have fewer than three bowel movements per week. [3]

 Along with infrequent stools, IBS-C also commonly causes:

  • Bloating and stomach discomfort
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Increased gas and flatulence
  • Mucus passed with stool
  • Changes in stool consistency and smell [3]

It's important not to confuse IBS-C with chronic constipation. While those with chronic constipation also have trouble having bowel movements, the key difference is that they generally don't suffer from the abdominal pain and discomfort that individuals with IBS-C frequently report. [3]

Chronic Idiopathic Constipation

Chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) is a specific type of constipation where the underlying cause is unknown. People with CIC deal with persistent and difficult-to-treat constipation that can significantly impact their quality of life. [4]

Symptoms of CIC can include:

  • Feeling like you can't fully empty your bowels after using the bathroom.
  • Needing to push or strain forcefully to pass stools.
  • Only having a bowel movement 1 to 2 times per week.
  • Passing very lumpy or hard stools. [4]

Functional Constipation in Children Above Six Years of Age

Functional constipation, which has no underlying medical cause, is often influenced by a child's surroundings and daily habits. Stress, changes in diet, learning coping skills, and having good social support can all impact bowel regularity. [5]

If your child is experiencing functional constipation, they may show some of the following signs:

  • Infrequent or hard stools
  • Feeling like they can’t fully empty their stomach
  • Stools that are hard to pass [5]

How Linzess Works

constipation pills surrounding a cut-out of the gastrointestinal system

Linzess provides relief from constipation by directly targeting the gut. Its active ingredient, linaclotide, activates receptors called guanylate cyclase-C (GC-C) in the intestinal lining. This starts a cascade of effects that soften stool and promote bowel movements. [1]

Specifically, turning on GC-C causes intestinal cells to release ions like chloride and bicarbonate. These ions draw water into the intestines, hydrating and softening stool. Linaclotide also reduces pain and discomfort in the gut by calming nerves that sense intestinal pain. [1]

Many people find that Linzess starts easing their constipation within the first week of use. Over the next 4 to 12 weeks, you may notice:

  • Less frequent constipation episodes
  • Softer, easier to pass stools
  • Less painful straining when having a bowel movement
  • Less bloating and abdominal discomfort [6]

It's important to know that stopping Linzess can allow constipation to return within one week. To maintain the benefits of Linzess, it needs to be taken daily as prescribed. [6]

Linzess Dosage

Linzess comes in three different capsule strengths to treat various gastrointestinal conditions. The Linzess dosage prescribed to you will depend on your specific diagnosis:

  • 72 mcg capsules. This low-dose option is typically used for children ages six and older to treat functional constipation. It may also be an option for adults with chronic idiopathic constipation if the 145-mcg dose causes side effects.
  • 145 mcg capsules. This is the standard dose used for adults with chronic idiopathic constipation. It helps stimulate bowel movements.
  • 290 mcg capsules. This high-dose option is approved for adults with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). The 290-mcg dose helps provide bowel movement relief. [1]

Your doctor will determine the right Linzess dosage based on your symptoms, diagnosis, age, and response to treatment. If you have side effects with your prescribed dosage, adjusting the strength may help. The goal is to find the lowest effective dose that provides regular, comfortable bowel movements.

How to Take Linzess

Taking Linzess as prescribed is crucial to getting the most out of this medication. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully regarding when and how much to take. Sticking to their guidelines will help Linzess work effectively.

To ensure that you are taking Linzess properly, here are some helpful tips:

  • Timing is important: Take Linzess at least 30 minutes before your first meal of the day. If you take it immediately after a fatty breakfast, you may experience looser stools.
  • Swallow the capsule whole: It's essential to swallow the Linzess capsule whole. Avoid chewing or crushing it, as this can alter its effectiveness. If you find it difficult to swallow pills, consult your pharmacist about alternative methods, such as mixing the contents into applesauce or water.
  • Consistency is key: Take Linzess every day, even if you're not experiencing symptoms. Unlike laxatives that can be used as needed, Linzess works best when taken daily.
  • Don't double up on missed doses: If you happen to miss a dose, simply skip it and continue with your next scheduled dose. Do not double up on the next dose to make up for the missed one. [1]

Linzess Side Effects

a bloated woman holding her stomach

Linzess works directly in the gastrointestinal tract, so most side effects are related to the stomach and intestines.

The most common side effect is diarrhea. Since Linzess increases fluid secretion in the intestines, diarrhea is often an adjustment symptom within the first two weeks of use. Let your doctor know right away if the diarrhea is severe or does not improve over time. [1]

Other common side effects can include:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea [1]

While rare, Linzess can lead to more serious side effects that require immediate medical attention. 

  • Allergic reaction
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Severe stomach pain [1]


Linzess provides a valuable treatment option for relieving the symptoms of IBS-C, FC, and CIC. By learning how it functions, the proper dosage, how it should be taken, and possible side effects, patients can make educated choices about using it in consultation with their doctors. As with any medication, it's vital to consider the pros and cons and talk about any worries with a qualified healthcare professional. 

To learn more about Linzess, visit our dedicated Linzess blog.

The content provided in this article is based on thorough research and, in some cases, reviewed by a medical professional. Our goal for the information is to provide helpful, general health information. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.