Manage your IBS.

With certain lifestyle changes you may be able to better manage irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

by Nashville General Hospital
tummy ache

As many as 15% of the people in the United States may have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder that leads to abdominal pain and bowel changes. The specific causes of IBS is unknown, however certain situations may contribute to its cause. These include:

  • Stressful events, especially at a young age.
  • Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.
  • Bacterial infection.
  • Food intolerances.
  • Genetics.

Symptoms of IBS vary by person and range from mild to severe. People with IBS may experience painful symptoms, such as:

  • Abdominal pain and cramps.
  • Bloating and gas.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.

You should see your doctor if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if the symptoms are a frequent occurrence. There are certain medications your doctor may prescribe to treat IBS. These medicines are typically used to treat either constipation of diarrhea.

Treating IBS

If you have symptoms of IBS, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes. In some cases, regular exercise and improved sleep may help relieve IBS symptoms.

Your doctor may also recommend changes to your diet. People with IBS are often encouraged to eliminate carbohydrates like sugars, starches and fiber from their diet. Foods that can trigger an IBS episode include garlic, onions, wheat, fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup, beans, legumes, lactose and alcohols. A complete list of foods to avoid can be found on the National Library of Medicine website

Because IBS affects each person differently, your doctor may also suggest that you eat more soluble fiber and avoid gluten. Often times, finding relief from IBS is done by changing what you eat for several weeks at a time to see what works. Additional tips on eating well can be found in “Your Guide for Better Choices”, provided courtesy of the Nashville General Hospital Foundation. This guide is also available in Spanish.

If you, or your child, are experiencing chronic digestive problems contact Nashville Healthcare Center to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Visit our Digestive Health website to learn more about our services and providers.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should talk with your primary care physician or other qualified medical professionals regarding diagnosis and treatment of a health condition.