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Understanding IBS Triggers and How to Reduce Your Risk of Symptoms

by Melissa Bell
5 minutes read

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, brings with it some very uncomfortable symptoms. Everything from abdominal pain and cramping to irregular bowel movements and fatigue, plague those that have it, causing a great deal of discomfort and frustration. If you’re reading this article, the chances are that you suffer with IBS or someone close to you suffers from it and you’re trying to get a better understanding of this gastrointestinal disorder. This means that you have some idea as to the impact that IBS can have on someone’s life and want to know some ways in which symptoms can be avoided or remedied.

What Is IBS?

To truly understand this disorder, you’ll first need to make sure you’re clued up on the basics. IBS affects the large intestine and has no exact known cause. It’s dissimilar to bowel disease in that it doesn’t cause inflammation of the gut, but instead they spasm and cramp as a result of certain triggers. Currently there’s also no cure for irritable bowel syndrome but there are a number of remedies to help alleviate symptoms such as dietary changes, medication, or lifestyle changes. These remedies don’t necessarily work for everyone so it’s important to find the right thing for you. There are countless professionals that can provide advice and help on this subject, and the internet is filled with resources to better help you understand IBS, so spend your time conducting plenty of your own research to avoid confusion and potentially find ways to improve your way of life.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Common IBS Triggers

The symptoms that come with IBS tend to be caused by specific triggers from our lifestyles and diet. Cramping, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, fatigue and joint pain are a variety of the symptoms that can be experienced by IBS sufferers, but not everybody has the same ones. Food, stress, and even certain drugs can contribute to an IBS flare up. Interestingly, there is a selection of medications that can irritate the bowels such as antibiotics, cough syrups and even anti-depressants. Although, interestingly, some anti-depressants have been used to even treat some of these symptoms, further demonstrating the confusing nature of this disorder. This is why it’s important for sufferers to find out their specific triggers so that they can better understand what to avoid and how they can alter their lifestyle to accommodate their IBS.

Changing Your Diet

When it comes to the causes of a flare up of IBS symptoms, for many, it all comes down to diet. This tends to be different for everyone, but some of the common culprits are gluten-rich foods like bread and cake, and processed foods like chips and cookies, or it can even be hard to digest foods like dairy products and high-fibre ones. Alcohol is known to be a big contributor to these problems too. Check out this blog post for more information on foods to avoid, as there are countless reported food triggers out there.

The best way to figure out what foods trigger you, if a bit of a laborious method, is to write a food diary. For a month or two, note down every single piece of food you eat. That means, every ingredient, every snack, every takeout order, and even every drink. Eventually, you’ll have gathered a decent amount of data on this to better understand what could be causing you pain and discomfort. It can feel like a long-winded process, and it is. But remember, IBS tends to be a condition you have for life, so spending this time figuring out what foods you can avoid, increasing your quality of life, is a very worthwhile step.

A New Lifestyle

The way we conduct our daily lives can also be a contributor to flare ups as well as remedies. It’s said that physical activity can be a great way of reducing the severity of IBS symptoms, and that people who don’t exercise much tend to suffer with more symptoms. Gentle activities like going for a walk or jog not only improve mental health and give you some time to destress, but they also promote regular and healthy bowel movements which can help to keep your gut healthy and reduce bloating from gases. There are even a number of recommended stretches that can be done, specifically involving the abdomen, which help to gently massage your intestinal region, assisting in clearing gas and also helping with mental health. Ultimately, exercise assists many aspects of our lives, and if it can help ease your IBS symptoms as well, it’s definitely worth trying.

Mental Wellness

Anxiety tends to be the mental health disorder most commonly associated with irritable bowel syndrome. This association between IBS and anxiety is two-fold, in that it’s often discussed as a contributor to IBS-related problems, but it is also a symptom of suffering with a disorder such as this. This can unfortunately result in a vicious cycle of a symptom being a cause of further symptoms, which can be both infuriating as well as debilitating. Finding ways to cope with mental health disorders can drastically help with managing IBS symptoms, although that’s much easier said than done. A good step towards this is to practice wellness and relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation in an attempt to bring stress levels down.

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