Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.
It is a chronic condition that can cause significant discomfort and inconvenience to those who suffer from it.
One of the most challenging aspects of IBS is the unpredictable nature of flare-ups.
However, understanding the triggers of IBS flare-ups and implementing prevention strategies can help individuals manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
The causes of IBS are not well understood, but there are several factors that can trigger flare-ups.
These triggers can vary from person to person, so it's essential to identify your personal triggers to manage your symptoms effectively.
Food plays a significant role in IBS flare-ups.
Certain foods can trigger symptoms, while others can help prevent them.
Fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods are common triggers for many people with IBS.
Certain foods high in FODMAPs, or combinations of different high FODMAP foods can also be the cause of your ongoing flare ups. It is important to work with a specialist dietitian to identify your specific FODMAP triggers so you can prevent future flare ups.
Get help from a specialist dietitian here.
Eating large meals or consuming food quickly can put a strain on the digestive system and disrupt its normal digestive function, leading to IBS symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, discomfort, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals, chewing food thoroughly, and avoiding trigger foods can help reduce the risk of IBS symptoms flaring up.
Find your correct portion sizes and your trigger foods with the help of a specialist dietitian here.
Stress is a common trigger for IBS symptoms.
When a person experiences stress, it can cause the body to release certain hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can affect the digestive system. These hormones can increase the sensitivity of the nerves in the digestive system, causing pain and discomfort.
Stress can also cause changes in gut motility, or the movement of food and waste through the digestive system. In some people, stress can cause the digestive system to speed up, leading to diarrhea. In others, it can slow down, causing constipation.
Stress can also affect the gut microbiome, which is the community of bacteria that live in the digestive system. Stress can alter the balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to inflammation and other changes that can trigger IBS symptoms.
Women with IBS may experience flare-ups during their menstrual cycle due to hormonal changes.
Hormonal changes can impact IBS because hormones can affect the functioning of the digestive system.
For example, the hormone progesterone can cause the muscles in the digestive system to relax, which can lead to constipation. This is why women may experience IBS symptoms leading up to their menstrual cycle bleed, pregnancy, or menopause.
Certain medications can irritate the digestive tract and cause IBS symptoms. Examples include antibiotics, antidepressants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Some medications may also contain small amounts of FODMAPs which may also flare symptoms. Check whether your medications may be causing your symptoms by asking a specialist dietitian here.
Infections can cause temporary IBS symptoms, or in some cases, these symptoms may persist even after the infection has cleared up.
Infections can cause an IBS flare-up by disrupting the normal functioning of the digestive system, causing inflammation, and altering the balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome. Managing infections promptly and effectively, and following up with a Dietitian soon after can help reduce the risk of developing long-term IBS symptoms.
We emphasise the importance of identifying personal triggers to manage symptoms effectively, because if you know what is causing your IBS, you have the power to prevent occurrence of your symptoms.
Through The IBS Program, we help clients step through the management and identify where the triggers are coming from, so we can reduce the control your IBS has over you and repair your gut for long term better health.
Prevention strategies such as working with a specialist dietitian to identify FODMAP triggers, eating smaller, more frequent meals, and reducing stress levels are recommended to improve the quality of life for people with IBS.
Promptly managing infections and following up with a dietitian after medication use is also recommended to reduce the risk of long-term IBS symptoms.