Medical drugs must be used properly to be effective. Some drugs are designed to be taken with food while others work better when taken on an empty stomach. Some drugs shouldn’t be taken with specific foods only — for example, tetracycline antibiotics should not be taken with calcium-containing foods like milk because they hamper their absorption.
Similarly, for LINZESS to be effective, it must be used properly. In this article, we’ll discuss whether you can take LINZESS with coffee and how to use it effectively.
Can I take LINZESS with coffee?
No, it’s not recommended to take LINZESS with coffee.
Although we don’t have studies looking specifically at the interaction between LINZESS and coffee, the drug is supposed to be taken on an empty stomach. The best time to take LINZESS is 30 minutes before breakfast, so although you can drink coffee after LINZESS, the two should not be consumed simultaneously.
But coffee might help with constipation
Even though it’s not a good idea to take LINZESS with coffee, increasing your overall coffee intake might be beneficial for your constipation.
That’s because studies have shown that coffee stimulates the gut. For example, in this study, researchers divided patients undergoing gut surgery into three groups — group A received decaffeinated coffee after the surgery, group B received caffeinated coffee, and group C received plain water only.
Normally, patients become constipated after gut surgery — which is called postoperative ileus — as it takes some time for the gut to resume its normal contractions. The study results showed that the time until the first bowel movement was significantly shorter for group A than for group C, indicating that coffee does affect gut motility.
A warm cup of coffee in the morning might also stimulate the gastrocolic reflex in you, which causes a bowel movement. When food (or liquid) enters the stomach, the large intestine contracts reflexively, causing an urge to defecate (to make room for the new meal).
In people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the gastrocolic reflex might be hypersensitive, which is why drinking coffee might cause the gut to contract and help produce a bowel movement.
However, keep in mind that excessive coffee intake can lead to dehydration. Coffee is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee more. Since water helps the gut function normally, excessive water via the urine can worsen your constipation.
Excessive coffee intake can also lead to diarrhea. And since one side effect of LINZESS is diarrhea, drinking too much coffee while you’re on the drug may cause severe diarrhea. This is true for all caffeine-containing drinks.
It’s best to discuss how you should use coffee with your healthcare provider, who may provide you with a comprehensive dietary plan that you can use to treat your IBS-induced constipation.
How to use LINZESS correctly?
The proper way to use LINZESS is to take it with plain water on an empty stomach. If you can’t swallow pills, you can open up the LINZESS capsule and dissolve its contents into plain water. You must drink this mixture immediately and not store it for later use.
It’s also important to understand that LINZESS works only if taken consistently. It’s normally given as a once-daily pill and if you skip your doses too often, the drug might not work for you.
Some people also believe that storing LINZESS improperly can make it ineffective. That’s why it’s recommended to store the drug at room temperature within the bottle it comes in. Make sure you don’t remove the desiccant that’s present inside the bottle.
Finally, you should be aware that LINZESS is not a laxative. There are many types of laxatives available on the market and almost all of them provide immediate relief from constipation. LINZESS, however, doesn’t relieve constipation immediately — it takes at least 1 week to work. The drug is often prescribed when laxatives have failed to treat your constipation.
What happens if you take LINZESS on a full stomach?
Taking LINZESS on a full stomach can lead to uncomfortable abdominal symptoms like bloating and gas. That’s because LINZESS increases the water content of your gut by stimulating chloride channels in the cells lining it.
Since patients with IBS are already hypersensitive to even small changes inside the gut, this increase in water content (along with food) inside the gut may trigger abdominal symptoms.
What to do if you want to take LINZESS with food?
While LINZESS can’t be taken with food, Trulance — which is an alternative to LINZESS — can be.
Trulance works just like LINZESS but differs in a number of important ways:
- It has similar side effect to LINZESS but their frequency is considerably lower
- It doesn’t cause headache (vs LINZESS)
- It has very few drug interactions (vs LINZESS, which can interact with a wide range of drugs)
Unfortunately, we don’t have enough data to comment on whether Trulance is more effective than LINZESS. Current data suggest both drugs work equally well.
You should keep in mind that wanting to take LINZESS with food is not a good reason to switch to Trulance. But if you stop responding to LINZESS (which is known to happen) or experience significant side effects, you can talk to your healthcare provider about Trulance.
LINZESS and coffee should not be taken at the same time. But you can consume coffee while you’re on LINZESS. There is some data to suggest that coffee consumption increases gut motility, which means it might help with your constipation.
But keep in mind that excessive coffee consumption can lead to diarrhea. It can also cause dehydration, which may worsen your constipation. So it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about how you might use coffee if you have IBS.
Finally, Trulance is a drug that works just like LINZESS. It can be taken with food and if you stop responding to LINZESS, you should talk to your doctor about a possible switch to Trulance.
Medically Reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD PhD