IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a functional gastrointestinal syndrome, meaning that there are no structural abnormalities or evidence of a disease or condition. This disorder is widespread and causes symptoms like excess gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation.
There is no cure for IBS, and the exact cause is unknown. Patients like you can manage symptoms to prevent disruption of everyday life, including discovering and ruling out IBS triggers.
Keep A Daily Food Journal
One of the easiest ways to rule out IBS triggers is to keep a daily food journal. Each day, write down:
- Your symptoms
- When symptoms began and ended
- Pre-symptoms activities
- Foods eaten and how much
- Medications taken
At the end of each week, review the journal, and make a note of what triggered IBS symptoms and what you did to alleviate them. If you menstruate, keep track of IBS symptoms during your cycle.
Remove Certain Foods From Your Diet
Remove certain foods from your diet, like dairy, wheat, and caffeine, for a few weeks to see how it affects your IBS symptoms. If you find that IBS symptoms improve upon omission of these foods, consider removing them from your diet altogether. You may have to break up with your favorite foods if you discover that they trigger IBS symptoms.
Know That Triggers Are Unique For Each Person
IBS triggers can vary from person to person. For example, wheat may start symptoms in Joanne but not in Michael. Lifestyle choices like inadequate exercising can also trigger IBS symptoms. Keeping a healthy lifestyle, drinking plenty of water, and limiting caffeine and alcohol can help manage symptoms.
Make An Appointment With Your Doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor to determine your type of IBS (constipation-predominate, diarrhea-predominate, mixed) and treatment. Your doctor may request testing to rule out other conditions that share symptoms with IBS.
If medications or if you menstruate, your cycle, trigger IBS symptoms, talk to your doctor about alternative medication.