Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a common condition characterized by abdominal discomfort and difficult digestion. It affects 10% to 20% of the population, though half of the people who have it ever seek treatment. It varies in severity and duration from person to person, affecting some only mildly and sporadically
What Are The Symptoms of IBS?
Some of the symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, feeling bloated or gassy, or abdominal cramps. Some abdominal discomfort may be relieved by a bowel movement, but not always. Because many of these abdominal symptoms can be due to other conditions, doctors rule out more serious health conditions before diagnosing IBS.
Does Stress Cause IBS?
Actually, no. While the cause of IBS is unknown, it is known that IBS isn’t caused by stress. However, stress can exacerbate the symptoms, especially pain, so if you have IBS, stress management is important.
How To Minimize IBS Symptoms
- Watch Your Diet--Because IBS acts differently with different people, doctors usually recommend that those with IBS keep track of what they eat so they can become more aware of their ‘trigger’ foods—the foods that worsen IBS symptoms. (These usually include things like caffeine, alcohol and dairy products.)
- Get Your Fiber On-- Adding fiber to one’s diet can help. Gradually increasing fruit, vegetable and whole grain intake are good ways to increase fiber in your diet.
- Manage Stress--Because stress can worsen IBS symptoms, having a regular stress management practice should be helpful for those with IBS as well. The following stress management resources can help keep stress to a minimum.
- Talk To Your Doctor—Now that you know the basics about IBS, it’s also important to talk to your doctor—if you haven’t already—if you suspect you have IBS. In addition to recommending lifestyle changes that can help, they might want to prescribe you medication that can ease the symptoms of IBS.
Blanchard EB, Lackner JM, Jaccard J, Rowell D, Carosella AM, Powell C, Sanders K, Krasner S, Kuhn E. The role of stress in symptom exacerbation among IBS patients.. Journal of Psychosomatic Research/ February, 2008.