What causes IBS?
There are many theories about what causes IBS, perhaps because it takes many different forms and people’s experiences of it vary so much.
For some people, aspects of their diet can trigger the onset of IBS symptoms , such as bowel cramps . For o thers, 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 causes…
Food and drink
Our reactions to certain types of food and drink ingredients can be unpredictable. Often, they’re temporary or we don’t develop adverse reactions until later in life.
Some of the food groups most commonly known to trigger IBS symptoms include:
- Wheat products
- Dairy products
- Drinks that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee, and cola
Keeping a food diary to track what y ou eat and how your body reacts can help you spot problematic patterns, such as bowel cramps , and if necessary, prepare an IBS diet that may 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 beyond this, it 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.
Find out more about how managing your stress levels can help alleviate some of the symptoms o f IBS , such as stomach cramps and bowel cramps
Tummy upsets caused by gastroenteritis or food poisoning are all too common, and can cause stomach cramps or bowel cramps . S ome IBS sufferers can trace their first experiences of IBS symptoms back to a bad bout of it.