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Canadian Med Center

Navigating Linzess Side Effects and Contraindications

Monday 1 April 2024
5 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. Common Side Effects of Linzess

II. Serious Side Effects of Linzess

III. Linzess Contraindications

IV. Conclusion

Taking Linzess (linaclotide) can provide much-needed relief from the bloating, discomfort, and other symptoms that come with chronic constipation or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, as with any medication, weighing the benefits and potential risks is essential.

In this article, we'll discuss Linzess' side effects and contraindications. 

Common Side Effects of Linzess

Linzess may cause temporary side effects in some people. Fortunately, most side effects are mild and go away within a few days or weeks as the body adjusts to the medication. [1]

Common side effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Stomach pain [1]

These side effects occur because Linzess draws more fluid into your intestines to soften your stool. An increase in fluid can cause loose, watery stools. The medication also increases muscle contractions in your intestines, which can cause cramping or pain. Excess fluid and contractions may also lead to more gas. [1]

Linzess and Diarrhea

Diarrhea is an expected side effect of Linzess since it is designed to relieve constipation. During clinical trials, diarrhea was the most frequent side effect of Linzess, occurring in up to 20% of patients. In most cases, the diarrhea was mild, but severe diarrhea can also occur. [1]

To minimize the risk of diarrhea, taking Linzess on an empty stomach rather than with a high-fat meal is recommended. Taking it at least 30 minutes before your first meal can help prevent this side effect. [1]

If you experience diarrhea while on Linzess, staying hydrated is crucial. Additionally, it's essential to be aware of the symptoms of dehydration, such as:

  • Dark yellow urine
  • Urinating less frequently than usual
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry mouth, lip, or tongue [2]

If you experience severe diarrhea, stop taking Linzess and let your doctor know immediately. [1]

Serious Side Effects of Linzess

a woman with chapped lips

While Linzess can be an effective treatment for constipation, it's important to be aware of potential serious side effects. While serious side effects from taking Linzess are uncommon, staying informed and prepared is crucial.

If you experience symptoms that are concerning after starting Linzess, don't delay seeking medical attention. Contact your doctor promptly to discuss what you're experiencing. They can help determine if your symptoms may be related to Linzess and advise you on any changes to your treatment plan that may be needed.

Dehydration Risk

Linzess comes with a boxed warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This warning specifically addresses the risk of serious dehydration in children under the age of 2 years. A boxed warning serves as an important alert to doctors and patients, highlighting the potential risks of taking a medication. [1]

Animal studies found that young animals experienced severe diarrhea leading to dehydration, which in some cases was fatal. Due to these findings and the potential risk, Linzess is not approved for use in children under six years of age. [1]

If your child is prescribed Linzess, carefully monitor them for signs of dehydration during treatment. Symptoms of dehydration in young children include:

  • Dry mouth or sticky saliva
  • Little or no tears when crying
  • Sunken eyes
  • Urinating less frequently
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness or sleepiness [3]

Severe Diarrhea

Diarrhea may be a side effect of Linzess treatment. In fact, diarrhea was the most reported side effect among individuals participating in clinical trials, with approximately 20% of participants encountering it. Although severe diarrhea was less common, affecting around 2% of participants, it is essential to be aware of its symptoms and take appropriate action if they arise. [1]

Symptoms of severe diarrhea may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Urgent need to go to the bathroom
  • Fever
  • Blood stools
  • Dehydration
  • Leaking stool and not being able to control your bowels [4]

In clinical trials, diarrhea typically manifested within the first two weeks of initiating Linzess treatment. It is crucial to note that diarrhea was the primary reason for discontinuing therapy for approximately 5% of participants. [1]

If you experience severe diarrhea, stop taking Linzess and let your doctor know immediately.

Severe Allergic Reaction

As with most medications, Linzess can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. After the FDA approved Linzess, they received reports from people describing experiences of allergic reactions they believed were connected to taking the drug. [1]

The symptoms they reported included:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling under their skin
  • Hives [1]

Because these reports were voluntarily submitted without a defined study population, the FDA could not reliably determine how frequently these reactions occurred or confirm that they were directly caused by the medication. [1]

However, if you experience any concerning symptoms that may indicate an allergic reaction after starting Linzess, contact your doctor right away to evaluate your condition.

Linzess Contraindications

a pharmacist explaining contraindications

As with any medication, your doctor must consider certain factors before prescribing Linzess. These factors include conditions that could potentially harm you if you take the medication.

These conditions are known as contraindications, and for Linzess, they include the following:

  • Blockages in the intestines
  • Being younger than two years old [1]

Blockage in the Intestines

If you suffer from a blockage in your intestines, Linzess may not be the right medication for you.

Linzess is designed to stimulate bowel movements and increase the speed at which stool moves through the intestines. For someone with an intestinal obstruction, this effect could potentially worsen the blockage and lead to dangerous complications. [1]

If you have an intestinal blockage, your doctor will likely prescribe alternative treatments that are safer for your condition.

Younger Than Two Years Old

Linzess contains a serious warning from the FDA about the risk of dangerous dehydration in children under two years old. This “boxed warning” is the strongest alert the FDA requires to caution doctors and caregivers about potentially hazardous side effects. [1]

Due to the seriousness of this warning, the FDA has not approved Linzess for any child under 6 years old. [1]


Linzess (linaclotide) can be an effective medication for relieving IBS-C and chronic constipation, but it's important to be aware of the potential side effects and risks.

If you're experiencing any adverse effects while taking Linzess, it's essential to consult your healthcare provider. They can help you manage any side effects, adjust your dosage if necessary, or explore alternative treatment options.

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

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.