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What is Xifaxan and How Does This Medication Work?

Monday 24 May 2021
Gastrointestinal Disorders
5 minute(s) read

Table of Contents


I. Understanding E. Coli Bacteria

II. What is Xifaxan?

III. What are the functions of Xifaxan?

a. Traveler’s Diarrhea

b. IBS with Diarrhea

c. Hepatic Encephalopathy

IV. How Quickly does Xifaxan Work?


Understanding E. Coli Bacteria

The E. coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria lives in the intestines without causing any health problems. However, certain strains of the E. coli bacteria can cause moderate to severe diarrhea, including symptoms of abdominal cramps, blood in the stool, and vomiting.

E. coli can enter the body through contaminated food or water. This commonly occurs when people consume raw vegetables or undercooked meat. After exposure to a harmful strain of E. coli, you may experience symptoms right away or more than a week later. Researchers have found that the E. coli strain O157:H7 is the most common cause of diarrhea symptoms. Infections with this strain can increase the risk of life-threatening complications, especially in older adults and younger children.

a person holding their stomach area

The E. coli bacteria can cause diarrhea because it produces powerful toxins that attack and damage the small intestine’s lining. Even in small amounts, E. coli can cause you to fall sick. In addition to older adults and younger children, those who have a weakened immune system or decreased stomach acid levels are at a higher risk of infection.

To lower the risk of diarrhea from E. coli, limit products made from raw milk, unpasteurized milk or apple juice, and undercooked meats. If you have been infected by E. coli, your doctor may prescribe Xifaxan to relieve diarrhea symptoms. Read on to learn more about Xifaxan and how this medication works. [1]

What is Xifaxan?

Xifaxan is the brand-name drug of rifaximin, an antibiotic that relieves diarrhea symptoms by stopping or slowing the growth of bacteria. In addition to diarrhea, Xifaxan may be prescribed to prevent episodes of hepatic encephalopathy, a condition involving a build-up of toxins in the brain. The dosage for Xifaxan may vary depending on the condition it is intended to treat. Generally, Xifaxan works best when taken at evenly spaced times. Below are some common functions of Xifaxan.

What are the functions of Xifaxan?

a. Traveler’s Diarrhea

The symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea include stomach cramps, loss of appetite, bloating, and fever. This type of diarrhea is rarely life-threatening, but symptoms can last up to a week. Traveler’s diarrhea is most common in developing countries where the food and water supply are more likely to be contaminated by E. coli. You can reduce your risk of traveler’s diarrhea when abroad by drinking boiled or bottled water, avoiding raw meats, and taking your drinks without ice to avoid frozen tap water.

Despite your best preventive efforts, you may still contract an E. coli infection. If you experience symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea, you may ask your doctor about Xifaxan. Xifaxan is typically taken orally and once every eight hours for three days. This general guideline is usually effective in reducing traveler’s diarrhea symptoms, but you may need to contact a doctor if you have serious symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, fever and chills, or dehydration. [2]

several luggage stacked on top of each other

b. IBS with Diarrhea

Irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D) is a condition that can cause frequent bowel movements, loose stools, stomach pain, and increased diarrhea. IBS-D causes the colon to become more sensitive to bacterial infections. There is no cure for IBS but combining a treatment plan of Xifaxan with dietary changes can help patients manage symptoms.

For IBS-D, Xifaxan is usually prescribed three times a day for a period of two weeks. Once Xifaxan decreases bacterial growth in the body, diarrhea symptoms should go away. Treatment with Xifaxan can be repeated up to two times if symptoms return. [3]

c. Hepatic Encephalopathy

Hepatic encephalopathy is a nervous system disorder that can occur in patients with severe liver disease. The liver is a key organ in the body that filters toxins from the blood. When the liver is diseased, these toxins can remain in the body and build up in the bloodstream.

If these toxins travel to the brain, brain function can be affected, resulting in changes to the patient’s behavior. Patients with this condition may seem confused at times. Treatment for hepatic encephalopathy typically involves laxatives or antibiotics like Xifaxan.

Because Xifaxan can reduce bacterial growth, this medication can lower the toxin levels in the body. To prevent episodes of hepatic encephalopathy, Xifaxan is typically taken twice a day, generally once every 12 hours.

Sticking to the treatment plan can improve your chance of slowing, stopping, and even reversing this disease. Patients affected by hepatic encephalopathy often need medications to treat their liver disease to prevent this condition from reoccurring. If you have liver disease and notice mood changes, impaired thinking, or sleep problems, speak to your doctor about Xifaxan. [4]

a happy traveler

How Quickly does Xifaxan Work?

The efficacy of Xifaxan depends on the condition you are treating. For traveler’s diarrhea, Xifaxan should relieve symptoms within 24 to 48 hours after you start taking this medication. [5] For IBS-D, you may need to complete your two-week course of treatment before benefiting from the full effects of this drug. However, after two weeks of taking Xifaxan, you should be symptom-free for up to 10 weeks. If you experience IBS-D symptoms right after taking rifaximin for two weeks, contact your doctor. [6]

To learn more about how Xifaxan (rifaximin) can help you, visit Canadian Med Center’s blog section for educational resources and research material. If you are ready to fill your prescription for Xifaxan, visit our online ordering portal today. At Canadian Med Center, we offer brand-name Xifaxan and generic rifaximin at several different strengths and prices. Save time and money with our quick ordering, around-the-clock helpline, and delivery.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.