Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Two people are intertwined with each other and a rollercoaster traversing both of their bodies.

IBS Rollercoaster Rides

If you have irritable bowel syndrome, then I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the IBS rollercoaster ride known as the IBS cycle. For those of you who are not familiar with the IBS cycle, let’s just say it’s a series of days or weeks of feeling really debilitated, and the pain hits you in waves of intensity that feels like you’re on a rollercoaster ride.

It’s a ride that we have no choice but to be on in this amusement park we call life. Yes, it goes up and down, and around and around, and there’s a possibility that you might throw up on the person next to you, if not yourself. The intensity of the ride depends on two factors: food triggers and stress. So, if you ate something that doesn’t sit well with your IBS, then chances are you’re going to be on an intense ride for a long time. However, with stress, let’s just say be prepared to be taken on an adventure because, as Forrest Gump said, “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

The food trigger cycle

Now, when my IBS cycle is caused by food triggers, the degree of pain normally stays consistent – very intense and long-lasting. I do my best to push through this type of cycle, but there are times when I find myself so incapacitated that it either leaves my wife having to pick up the rest of my slack around the house, or a coworker having to pick up most of my slack around the office. I believe the reason why this kind of IBS rollercoaster ride lasts longer is that the foods that trigger my symptoms take longer to digest in my body. Thus, the longer it’s in my body, the longer I’ll suffer. But like I said, with stress, it’s a different kind of rollercoaster ride.

The stress cycle

When I go through an IBS cycle caused by stress, the degree of pain isn’t consistent, so the rollercoaster ride is a bit scarier because of the surprise-factors. When I’m undergoing a lot of stress, especially for an extended period, my IBS will most likely attack at the most inconvenient moments. And, having the level of pain go from a low scale then jump to a high scale in an instant is pretty alarming, causes anxiety, and very hard to deal with sometimes at the moment. Imagine giving a presentation at an important meeting, and due to the stress and anxiety caused by your anticipation for the meeting, all of a sudden during your speech you feel an intense gas pain that feels like a knife is slicing your intestines? Yea, not really the best moment for that to happen. Am I right?

The endless IBS cycle

This is my experience with the IBS rollercoaster ride, also known as the IBS cycle. Like every amusement park, there are different kinds of rollercoaster rides. However, in my particular IBS-themed amusement park, there’s really just two that stand out the most; one is the food trigger and the other is stress. Both are intense rides, but certainly, have their differences in terms of intensity and surprise. I don’t enjoy riding either, by the way, but I have no choice

Which IBS rollercoaster rides do you go on the most? In other words, do you experience IBS cycles? If so, are they food or stress-related, or both? As always, thanks for taking the time to read my article and I look forward to reading your comments. Stay strong and positive!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • toilet.punisher
    4 weeks ago

    I used to be plagued with the stress roller coaster way more than the trigger food. It used to get to a point that even the thought of leaving my house in the mornings, for work, would stress me out, and my guts would start their tango while I’d put on my shoes.

    My boss then gave me a book on anxiety, which made a ton of difference. I also made a habit of meditating early every morning, and before bedtime. It allowed me to calm my mind for the day, and ensure I got better sleep for the night. All of that combined over a few weeks, made a visible, and noticeable difference in minimising my stress related roller coaster.

    Thankfully, the food trigger roller coaster is a matter of self-discipline which I do lose sometimes. It’s hard to ignore ice-cream!

  • tmholland moderator
    3 weeks ago


    I’m really glad you have found some benefit and relief with meditation. It may not be for everyone, but I don’t know where I would be without it, personally. The ‘trigger game’ is a difficult one that I think we all struggle with, but you sound like you are doing quite well with it. We all lose sometimes…and who doesn’t have trouble resisting ice cream :-). Thank you for sharing and I hope you are well today. -Todd, Team

  • Poll