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IBS Symptoms, Triggers And Management

Written by Courteney

Posted on April 13, 2016 at 8:40 pm

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a troublesome condition of the large intestine that causes a variety of unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. IBS sufferers have disrupted digestive rhythms, tending to move food through the tract either too slowly or too quickly resulting in chronic constipation or diarrhea. IBS sufferers experience a range of symptom severity, some with only the occasions stomach upset while others live a more restricted life, always having to know where the nearest washroom is. Fortunately, there are things IBS sufferers can do to better manage their condition and minimize discomfort.

Common Symptoms Of IBS

  • Bloating
  • Bouts of diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain or cramps (that are relieved by using the washroom)
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Gas
  • Upper GI tract discomfort (such as heartburn)
  • Frequent urgent need to use washroom
  • Worsening of symptoms with stress
  • Worsening of symptoms with certain foods

Risk Factors of IBS

Some people may have all these risk factors and never develop irritable bowels while others may fit none of the criteria but still develop the condition. However, those that fall into the following categories are at a higher risk of developing IBS:

  • Age: young people are most often affected by IBS.
  • Gender: IBS is much more prevalent among women.
  • Family history: research points to increased risk if a close family member has IBS.
  • Mental health: those with such conditions as anxiety or depression are at a higher risk for IBS as the stomach and brain are highly connected.

Common IBS Triggers

  1. Stress and anxiety
  2. Certain beverages: alcohol, carbonated and caffeinated drinks
  3. Fatty, fried or processed foods
  4. Dairy products
  5. Spicy foods
  6. Wheat and gluten may be IBS triggers for certain people
  7. Medications such as antibiotics or antidepressants may effect the bowels
  8. Not getting enough exercise

Lifestyle IBS Management Tips

Get Moving

To help control your IBS through diet and lifestyle, be sure to start exercising more if you are sedentary. Regular exercise can help ease some of the symptoms of IBS. Yoga, routine walking and swimming can be especially good activities to try if you have IBS as they are not too strenuous.

Stress Management

With most IBS sufferers high stress levels can lead to flare-ups, so it would certainly be in your best interest to keep your cortisol levels in-check. Try to set aside some time each morning (or when you feel stress rising) to do something you find relaxing such as journeling or going for a little drive with relaxing music. Some IBS sufferers experience some success practicing relaxation techniques.

Diet Modification

Try to follow a healthy diet which works in high fibre fruits and veggies while limiting intake of junk food, dairy, take out, greasy or spicy food. Drink more water (especially to replenish your fluids if you tend toward loose bowel movements regularly).

Probiotics or Medication

Some people with IBS find success with probiotics; taking certain kinds daily may help replenish beneficial gut flora that can be out of balance from irregular washroom habits. Talk to your healthcare professional before beginning probiotics to make sure they are right for you. You should also consult your doctor (or one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians) if your IBS is still uncontrolled after modifying your diet and lifestyle as you may need to look into other treatment options.

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