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What is Xifaxan Used For?

Xifaxan is FDA-approved to treat traveler's diarrhea. It is also approved to reduce the risk of overt hepatic encephalopathy (HE) recurrences in adults. Xifaxan may also be prescribed to treat irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D). The many uses of Xifaxan make it a popular antibiotic for reducing symptoms and relieving stomach issues.

How Does Xifaxan Work?

Xifaxan works by targeting bacterial RNA polymerase to stop bacterial growth in the gastrointestinal tract. Traveler's diarrhea, HE, and IBS-D are all conditions that are caused by bacteria. By addressing bacterial growth in the body, Xifaxan can help reduce symptoms and provide relief.

If you are taking Xifaxan for traveler's diarrhea, the recommended dosage is 200 mg three times a day. Having a schedule and taking your Xifaxan pill at the same time each day can help you remember. Taking Xifaxan at the same time every day also helps keep a consistent level of medication in your body and maximizes the effectiveness of this drug. Xifaxan is safe to take with or without food.

The recommended starting dosage of Xifaxan for IBS and hepatic encephalopathy is 550 mg. However, each individual is different, and you should always follow your doctor's dosage instructions.

Side Effects of Xifaxan

Like any medication, Xifaxan may cause side effects. However, your doctor may prescribe Xifaxan if they determine that the benefits outweigh the risks. Common side effects of Xifaxan include:

  • Skin rash
  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

More serious side effects include:

  • Jaundice, abdominal pain, dark urine, or other symptoms of liver damage
  • Anemia, signified by fatigue, headache, and pale-looking skin and gums
  • Severe diarrhea that causes abdominal pain, frequent bowel movements, and loose stool
  • Depression, which can cause weight changes, loss of appetite, insomnia, and mood swings
  • Allergic reaction, which can show as flushing, swelling of the tongue, mouth, or throat, and subsequent difficulty breathing

The common side effects listed here are typically mild, and they should go away on their own within a few days. If not, speak to your doctor. If any of the above serious side effects occur, seek medical attention immediately. Ask your doctor for a complete list of the possible side effects of Xifaxan.


Before taking Xifaxan, ensure you inform your doctor about all the medications you are taking to prevent any drug and food interactions with Xifaxan.

Xifaxan may not be suitable for you if you have a history of severe liver problems.

It is not known if Xifaxan is safe to take for pregnant, breastfeeding, or expecting mothers. Speak to your doctor prior to taking Xifaxan to be safe.


How long does Xifaxan stay in your system?

In most patients, Xifaxan takes approximately 12 to 16 hours to clear from the body. The duration that Xifaxan stays in your system will depend on factors like your liver function, prescribed dosage, and metabolism.

Are there any alternatives to Xifaxan?

While there are several alternatives to Xifaxan for treating traveler's diarrhea, you may require Xifaxan for other conditions like hepatic encephalopathy or IBS-D. It is important to take the medication that your doctor has prescribed. If you have any concerns about a particular antibiotic, work with your healthcare provider to make the necessary adjustments.

Can I drink alcohol while taking Xifaxan?

Xifaxan is not known to interact with alcohol. However, alcohol is a diuretic, and it can lead to dehydration. When the body is dehydrated, it is more likely to experience gastrointestinal issues like traveler's diarrhea and IBS-D. Ask your doctor before combining alcohol and Xifaxan.

If you are taking Xifaxan for hepatic encephalopathy (HE), drinking alcohol may worsen your condition, so it is recommended that you avoid alcohol altogether during treatment. Alcohol can trigger HE episodes and worsen existing underlying liver disease.

If you are consuming alcohol while taking Xifaxan, it is important to monitor your side effects closely and attend regular checkups. Although your doctor may allow you to drink alcohol, it is important to do so with caution.

How long do Xifaxan side effects last?

Most milder side effects of Xifaxan tend to go away in less than a day. However, it is crucial to seek medical attention if any of your side effects exacerbate or persist longer than a few days. Monitor for more severe side effects like an allergic reaction, liver damage, anemia, or depression, and get medical help if any of these occur.

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