Is it Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Something You Ate?

News You Can Use
2 min readApr 29, 2022

By: Gastro-MD

April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month and an important time to raise awareness about IBS so we can improve diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life. While IBS is a common disorder that affects about 10–15% of the U.S. population, many people go undiagnosed and suffer in silence. Why? Unfortunately, many people experience abdominal pain, cramping, gas, and diarrhea and think they simply ate something that didn’t agree with their stomach. Those symptoms may indicate that you have a disorder that requires special attention. Dealing with an IBS attack can greatly impact a patient’s life and even their mental health. When you don’t know what is causing your digestive discomfort, you may shy away from social events, rely on unnecessary medication and stop enjoying the hobbies and activities that you once loved.

Problem Foods

Many people diagnosed with IBS go on to lead better quality lives when they know what triggers to avoid. The following are some common foods that can cause IBS flare-ups:

  • Insoluble fiber — whole grain products such as wheat bran
  • Alcohol
  • Gluten — found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Fried foods
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Beans and legumes
  • Dairy
  • Processed foods
  • Sugar-free sweeteners
  • Chocolate

Common Symptoms

The foods that cause IBS attacks are different for everyone. You must determine which foods lead to discomfort for you and commit to removing these from your diet. The most common symptom of IBS is abdominal pain. This pain can be cramping, stabbing, or throbbing. It is usually relieved by passing gas or having a bowel movement. However, the pain may return. Other common symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Excessive gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Available Treatments

If you are experiencing these symptoms regularly, visit a doctor who will give you a proper assessment. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for IBS, but there are many options available to help manage the symptoms.

Some common treatments include:

Dietary changes: Avoiding trigger foods and eating smaller meals more frequently rather than the traditional three main meals a day can help to reduce symptoms.

Medications: Several medications can treat IBS, including antispasmodics, antidepressants, and antidiarrheals.

Stress management: Stress can trigger or worsen IBS symptoms. There is a strong connection between the brain and the gut. Stress can induce stomach acids to spike, causing painful spasms in the digestive system. Learning how to manage stress through relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can help to reduce symptoms.