By the way, doctor: Is Zelnorm safe?

Q. I have irritable bowel syndrome, with frequent bloating and constipation. My doctor prescribed a six-week course of Zelnorm, which really helped. Is it safe to take long-term?

A. Zelnorm (tegaserod maleate) is a prescription medication for the short-term treatment of women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) whose primary symptom is constipation. Zelnorm speeds the movement of stool through the bowels, reducing pain caused by bloating and constipation.

Side effects include sleepiness, dizziness, headache, and diarrhea. A few patients have had diarrhea severe enough to require hospitalization. A very small number developed a dangerous condition called ischemic colitis, meaning lack of blood supply to the intestine.

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