Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Controlling Symptoms With Diet
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Many people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) find that eating prompts symptoms of abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea (or, sometimes, alternating periods of constipation and diarrhea), and bloating. Making adjustments to your diet can provide relief.
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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the intestines that causes abdominal (belly) pain or discomfort. The pain may occur alone or along with constipation or diarrhea. Other symptoms include bloating, mucus in stools, or a sense that you have not completely emptied your bowels.
In irritable bowel syndrome, you have symptoms in the digestive tract but doctors can find no change in physical structure, such as inflammation or tumors.
It is not clear what causes irritable bowel syndrome, and the cause may be different for different people. Some ideas for what causes IBS include problems with the way signals are sent between the brain and the digestive tract, problems digesting certain foods, and stress or anxiety. People with IBS may have unusually sensitive intestines or problems with the way the muscles of the intestines move.
Managing stress and changing your diet are the main treatments for the condition. Medicines may be used to treat severe symptoms that interrupt daily activities.
Test Your Knowledge
Irritable bowel syndrome occurs because of a blockage in the large intestine.
No particular foods cause everyone with IBS to have symptoms. Doctors do not advocate a particular diet to manage symptoms. But through trial and error, many people find that they feel better when they stop eating certain foods.
Many people find that their irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms become worse after they eat. Sometimes certain foods make symptoms worse. Foods most commonly listed as causing symptoms include:
Other types of food that can make IBS symptoms worse include:
Test Your Knowledge
People with irritable bowel syndrome do not need to follow a special diet.
Although there is no particular diet to follow, you can manage your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by limiting or eliminating foods that may bring on symptoms, particularly diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Make sure you don't stop eating completely from any one food group without talking with a dietitian. You need to make sure you are still getting all the nutrients you need.
Tips for controlling symptoms
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Keeping a food diary
Some people who have IBS use a daily food diary to keep track of what they eat and whether they have any symptoms after eating certain foods. The diary also can be a good way to record what is going on in your life. Stress plays a role in IBS: If you are aware that particular stresses bring on symptoms, you can try to reduce those stresses.
Test Your Knowledge
Milk sugar (lactose) can trigger IBS symptoms.
Increasing fiber in the diet does not improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in everyone.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning a plan to reduce or eliminate certain foods from your diet. It's fine to eliminate beverages such as alcohol or caffeine or items such as sugarless gum or candy, but be careful before removing entire food groups, such as dairy, vegetables, or fruits.
You may be able to eat some fruits and vegetables but not others. Your doctor may recommend that you consult a registered dietitian to help you plan a nutritious menu that helps reduce your symptoms.
If you would like more information on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the following resources are available:
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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