What causes IBS?
Due to the fact that IBS takes many different forms and people’s experiences vary so much, it is hard to identify one trigger.
For some people, aspects of their diet can trigger the onset of IBS symptoms. For others, it’s brought on by stressful events at home or in the workplace, or by gastroenteritis or food poisoning. For women, it is quite common to experience pronounced IBS symptoms around the time of menstruation – approximately a third of women, who do not otherwise have bowel complaints, experience gas, diarrhoea or constipation at this time.
Let’s take a closer look at the main triggers…
Food and drink
Some of the food groups most commonly known to trigger IBS symptoms include:
- Fizzy drinks
- Drinks that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee, and cola
- Processed snacks – such as crisps and Biscuits
- Fatty or fried food
Keeping a food diary to track what you eat and how your body reacts can help you spot problematic patterns, and if necessary, adjust your diet to help control symptoms.
Stress and anxiety
The pace and pressure of modern life can be overwhelming at times. While stress and anxiety don’t directly cause IBS, they can certainly trigger its symptoms. Stress in small amounts is a good thing – it keeps you alert and active – but chronic stress can leave you feeling anxious and out of control.
Unhealthy levels of stress can be caused by a single significant issue – at home or in the workplace – or by the cumulative effect of many minor irritations. If stress leads to the onset of IBS symptoms, this very often makes matters worse.
As with food and drink, you may find keeping a diary of your experiences of stress and anxiety can help you identify patterns that bring on IBS. Identifying the causes of stress in your life, and how they coincide with IBS, is often the first big step in finding ways to manage IBS successfully. Or there may be other ways to deal with stress– for example, with various forms of exercise including yoga.