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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.
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
Irritable bowel syndrome occurs because of a blockage
in the large intestine.
Irritable bowel syndrome does not occur because
of a blockage or structural problem in the large intestine. IBS is a functional
bowel disorder, which means that intestinal movement is abnormal but doctors
can find no structural abnormality in the intestines.
Continue to Why?
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:
People with irritable bowel syndrome do not need to
follow a special diet.
People with irritable bowel syndrome
do not need to follow a special diet. No particular diet
is recommended for everyone with IBS. But many people with irritable bowel
syndrome do find that some foods tend to cause them to have symptoms.
People with irritable bowel syndrome do not need to follow a special diet. No particular diet is recommended
for everyone with IBS. But many people with irritable bowel syndrome do find that some foods tend
to cause them to have symptoms.
Continue to How?
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.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
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
Milk sugar (lactose) can trigger IBS symptoms.
Lactose can trigger irritable bowel symptoms
because it may not be digested well by your body and can increase the amount of fluid in the intestines. Lactose can also cause gas and bloating when undigested lactose passes into the large intestine. But not everyone will respond
the same way to certain foods or beverages.
Increasing fiber in the diet does not improve symptoms
of irritable bowel syndrome in everyone.
Fiber does not improve the symptoms of
irritable bowel syndrome in everyone. Fiber is most effective for people with
IBS who mainly have constipation. It also may help some people with diarrhea,
because fiber absorbs water. But for some people with IBS, fiber can make
symptoms, such as gas and bloating, worse.
Continue to Where?
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:
The American College of Gastroenterology is an organization of digestive disease specialists. The website contains information about common gastrointestinal problems.
This clearinghouse is a service of the U.S. National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the
U.S. National Institutes of Health. The clearinghouse answers questions;
develops, reviews, and sends out publications; and coordinates information
resources about digestive diseases. Publications produced by the clearinghouse
are reviewed carefully for scientific accuracy, content, and readability.
More information on irritable bowel syndrome can be found in this topic:
Return to topic:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
April 26, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
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