Glowing speech bubbles float in front of a hilly landscape at night, the largest bubble says "IBS Triggers, Symptoms, and Management"

IBS Triggers, Symptoms, and Management

Last updated: January 2023

Do you ever feel tricked, deceived, or mocked by your own body when IBS symptoms flare after a typically safe meal? It is one thing when we know our triggers, but it is another when someone living with IBS faces unpredictable symptoms. It makes people living with the condition question their every move. Was it the medication they take for another condition? Could it be the splash of dairy in your tea? Maybe it was just too big of a portion.

In our 6th Annual IBS In America survey, 1,478 respondents let us know what they’ve identified as their triggers and how they avoid or manage them.

Do you know your IBS triggers?

Identifying our triggers is half the battle of living with IBS. Sometimes, triggers change over time. What were once "safe" foods can become triggers. Some triggers go beyond the kitchen and can include anxiety or stress.

Five people are shown with speech bubbles describing their top IBS triggers: stress, anxiety, greasy/fried foods, dairy/milk products, and large portion sizes.

The other triggers: allergies and intolerances

Triggers come in many forms. Some people experience food allergies (26 percent) or intolerances (85 percent) alongside IBS. It can take time to navigate through these challenging triggers. Dairy is at the top of the list for many of our respondents.

Food allergies, including milk, wheat, tree nuts, and shellfish are in speech bubbles.

Hands raise up speech bubbles with food intolerances, including dairy products, onions, artificial sweeteners, and gluten inside each bubble.

Living with IBS is tough

Despite avoidance, smaller portions, and doing their best to predict the unpredictable, people living with IBS are still faced with difficulties managing their condition. About one-third of patients experience challenges with eating at home or dining out.

Hands raise up speech bubbles with statistics about how difficult it is for people with IBS to dine-in at restaurants.

IBS symptom management

Some people avoid specific foods for weeks, months, or years. Others limit their portion sizes. For over half of respondents, self-discipline is a key factor in management, mostly through dietary adjustments. How do you manage IBS symptoms?

Three different speech bubbles include information about using IBS prescription medicine, limiting or avoiding certain foods, and treatment effectiveness.

The 6th IBS In America Survey was conducted online from May 2022 through July 2022. The survey was completed by 1,478 people.

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