What Triggers IBS Symptoms?
We all know that IBS is not a life-threatening condition and it does not damage our colon or cause severe complications, compared to ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease; but if you are a sufferer like me, you also know that that this syndrome is a long-term gastrointestinal problem and it does affect the way we live, especially our diet, social life and work life.
The symptoms vary from person to person and can change over the years. Some people suffer from diarrhea, other from constipation, and an equal percentage of sufferers alternate between the two. As if diarrhea and constipation were not enough, other common symptoms of IBS are: abdominal cramps, bloating, flatulence, mucus in the stools, heartburn, and these are just to mention the main ones.
Symptoms can last several days before they diminish or go away completely. For now there is no cure for IBS, but fortunately for us, there is something that we can do to improve our symptoms and live a better life. The most important thing is to learn to manage this condition, by making changes, especially to our diet and lifestyle.
What are common triggers of IBS?
I wish I knew the cause of IBS, but not even the experts know the exact causes of IBS. Saying that medical research has been able to identify the possible triggers of our symptoms.
These are the most common triggers to those awful symptoms and what can be done to avoid flares up.
- Diet is a major trigger of IBS. Certain food, such as high FODMAP food, has been found responsible for causing symptoms. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that don’t get absorbed properly in the intestine. When adopting a low FODMAP diet, 75% of IBS sufferers have reported a satisfactory symptom relief. 1
- Regulating the soluble fibers intake appear to be helping many sufferers.
- Reduce the intake of known gut irritants such as alcohol, fatty food, caffeine and spicy food.
- Soda drinks can often cause bloating and other symptoms due to the carbonation and the artificial sweeteners in them. Healthier and safer choices are plain water or you can give it a bit of taste by adding a few drops of lemon. Other safe drinks are peppermint tea or other IBS-friendly teas containing low FODMAP herbs and fruits.
- Emotional factor, such as stress, trauma. It is important to try and manage our stress, as it’s a major trigger of IBS symptoms. Personally, I regularly do meditation, yoga and deep breathing, these are all things that help me. Gentle exercise also helps. I also try to relax by watching funny programs on TV or read a good book.
- Infections, like gastroenteritis, caused by bacteria or a virus, may sensitize the gut and also cause symptoms.
Whatever the cause of your IBS, and the triggers of your symptoms, don’t suffer in silence. Consult your doctor and visit a specialized dietician to get the help you need to gain control of your symptoms and your life.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?