Be Your Own Nutrition Detective
Get to know your body. Record your food intake and symptoms for one week. Record when and how much you ate and drank. At the same time, record your gastrointestinal symptoms. Noting the onset, reaction and severity of the symptoms will you identify the “trigger” food that may not be kind to your gut.
What Causes An Ibs Flare
MD, Assistant lecturer of internal medicine, Gastro-enterology, & Hepatology.IBS sufferer, Gut health enthusiast, and writer.
Your health matters, my content is not a substitute for the medical advice by your doctor. #Stay_Safe
Welcome to the most unpredictable, most irrational disease on planet earth Irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is probably the most confusing disease.
This is because we cannot expect a definite pattern of symptoms. Also, sometimes we cannot even define the cause of an IBS flare-up.
The most common causes of An IBS flare-up are:
- Eating high FODMAP foods and Drinks.
- Fatty and fried foods.
- Large meals .
- Anxiety, stress.
- Pain, Physical stress, major trauma, and fever.
- Lack of sleep.
- Some medications such as antibiotics.
- Fluctuations in female sex hormones.
Today I will share with you all the possible causes of an IBS flare-up as a doctor and an IBS sufferer.
Be Mindful Of Fatty Foods During Flare
“Some people with IBS find that fatty foods lead to loose stools and pain,” Jackson says. In this case, she’s talking about both saturated fats and also “healthy” fats, like in avocados and nuts. “They react the same way in this case,” she says. If you’re worried about a flare-up or are currently in the throes of one, this is one food category Jackson says to avoid for the next several hours. Some foods that will be gentler on the digestive system include oatmeal, grilled chicken, and stir-fry.
Looking for more IBS-friendly foods? Here’s what to know about the low-FODMAP diet:
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How Can Ibs Be So Painful When Nothing Irregular Shows Up On Tests
The answer is that IBS is a condition where the symptoms relate to alterations in normal gastrointestinal function that is, dysregulation of brain and gut affecting both pain signals and motility .
The aim of this publication is to explain this relationship between the brain and the gut in order to help those affected understand why and how pain in IBS occurs, and how it can be confidently managed.
Putting It All Together
Pain is the dominant symptom of IBS, regardless of the IBS subtype IBS-D, IBS-C, or IBS mixed . It is the main contributor to severity in IBS. Seeking relief from pain is the most common reason that people with IBS consult with their doctor.
Like all functional gastrointestinal disorders, IBS is a disorder of brain-gut interactions. Symptoms of IBS in general are caused by the presence of biological factors that are happening inside the body, which are not easily visible.
Advances in science over the past two decades, including the microbiota of the gut, alteration of gut sensitivity, and brain imaging, have led to improved understanding about the interactions between the brain and the gut.
The pain in IBS is closely related to an altered response on the part of the brain to normal signals that arise from the gut, which turn up the volume on sensations. This understanding of the brain-gut connection is essential, not only to the cause of the chronic pain, but also to its treatment.
Currently, there is no sure treatment that will eliminate 100% of the chronic pain in IBS. But, there are a number of approaches that can reduce and bring the pain under control. These include self-management approaches, psychological approaches, and medications.
Opioids are not a treatment for IBS pain there is no evidence of long-term benefit.
PrintA pdf of this article for free download is available in the IFFGD publications library here.
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What Are Ibs Flare
IBS is an uncomfortable gastrointestinal condition affecting 25 to 45 million people in the U.S. While the disorder doesnt cause damage to your digestive tract, symptoms can become acute. These acute attacks are often referred to as IBS flare-ups because they come on quickly and can last anywhere from hours to months.
Researchers believe a range of possible IBS causes exists, including muscle dysfunction, overly sensitive nerves, changes in gut microbes, bacteria, viruses, and even stress.
But what causes those acute flare-ups, and are they preventable?
How Ibs Can Affect The Urinary Tract
Scientists are still trying to understand how IBS can cause bladder problems. There are currently several theories.
Originally, it was suggested that IBS can put additional pressure on the bladder and urinary tract due to abdominal bloating. However, although this may contribute, there is likely to be a more complex explanation.
Same Affected Nerves
Another theory is that the bowel and the bladder are under the control of the same nerves. Therefore, dysfunction in these nerves could affect both organs, causing both IBS and urinary problems.
Central Nervous System Issues
Others have suggested that a problem in the central nervous system causes urinary problems in IBS. Both the bladder and the bowel contain high concentrations of serotonin. Therefore, it is possible that this versatile neurotransmitter could play a role.
Another neurotransmitter that might be involved is acetylcholine. This chemical is responsible for controlling contractions in smooth muscle, including the bladder and bowel.
It is possible that a combination of all these factors is to blame. Unfortunately, until further research emerges, we can only speculate as to the precise cause of bladder problems in IBS.
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Should You Change Your Diet
Your treatment plan will depend on your specific symptoms and triggers, but many people start with diet changes. It may help to eat smaller meals and foods that are lower in fat. Fiber is good if your IBS includes constipation. You may want to avoid alcohol or caffeine, and foods that make you gassy . Also, notice if lactose makes your symptoms worse.
How Can You Calm An Ibs Flare
There are a few things you can do to ease your symptoms while in the middle of an IBS flare-up.
Probiotics, which are found in yogurt, sauerkraut, and supplements, help to restore your gut bacteria after bouts of diarrhea, so they help to make digestion a little easier for you.
It may also be helpful to include a little gentle fiber like chia seeds or psyllium husk if you are dealing with constipation.
Those who are dealing with a lot of pain can benefit from over the counter pain medicines or a heating pad placed over the stomach.
If you are stuck in the bathroom, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders suggests that you take loperamide which is also known as Immodium.
This medication lowers intestinal contractions, so the gut does not process waste as quickly.
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Best Ways To Battle Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Get to know your triggers and ways to prevent flare-ups.
|Images: Thinkstock Irritable bowel syndrome may be due to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine or nerve problems.|
Cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation are tough to handle at any time. But if a combination of these symptoms occurs over three or more months, you may have a condition called irritable bowel syndrome . It’s the most common diagnosis made by gastroenterologists, accounting for as many as 3.5 million physician visits per year. “I see someone with this condition every day,” says gastroenterologist Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
What Causes Ibs Flare Ups
An IBS flare up can last anywhere from a few hours to months. Some things that may cause a flare up are stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Eating trigger foods or FODMAPs can also cause IBS flare ups.
A gastrointestinal infection may also cause IBS flare ups and worsen the other symptoms.
There are quite a few typical symptoms of an IBS flare up, which include:
Bloating or swelling of the abdomen.
Anxiety or depression.
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Treatments To Calm A Gut Flare Up
IBS flare-ups start in the gut, so it makes sense to treat the root cause of the problem. These treatment options are highly recommended for bringing the gut back into balance:
- Gut reset: A gut reset is a modified fast that allows your entire digestive tract to rest and repair. Just 24-48 hours of replacing meals with an elemental diet shake can significantly calm an IBS flare. Preliminary research suggests that fasting and eating elemental diets are effective treatments for IBS [
- Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source, Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source] and can be effective, even for IBS patients that dont respond to other therapies .
- Herbal remedies: A number of herbal remedies can help with bloating and other digestive symptoms. Peppermint oil supplements, peppermint tea, or the herbal supplement can help to soothe digestive symptoms.
What Are Ibs Symptoms
- Excess gas.
- Mucus in your poop .
Women with IBS may find that symptoms flare up during their periods. These symptoms often happen again and again, which can make you feel stressed or upset. As you learn management techniques and gain control over flare-ups, youll start to feel better, physically and mentally.
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How Long Do Ibs Attacks Last
IBS flare-up duration is most typically from 2 to 4 days. After that, the symptoms can reduce or disappear completely.
Some factors can make symptoms worse or longer-lasting.
These factors aggravate the disease, cause or worsen the flare-ups, and make the disease difficult to deal with.
Let’s take a quick look at the most common of those factors.
Menstrual Triggers For Ibs
Women with IBS tend to have worse symptoms during their periods. There’s not a lot you can do to prevent it, but you can ease pain and discomfort during that time of the month.
How to Feel Better:
- Think about taking birth control pills. They can make your periods more regular. But they can cause side effects, like upset stomach, vomiting, stomachcramps or bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Work with your doctor to find one that works without causing other problems.
- Treat severe PMS. Some drugs that treat depression can help, such as fluoxetine , paroxetine , and sertraline .
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What Are The Most Common Ibs Flare Up Symptoms
In some cases, you may end up having an IBS flare-up. What is an IBS flare-up? In short, its a moment when your body just starts to get annoyed or flared up because of something that you ate or did.
The IBS is then triggered and it becomes difficult for you to go ahead and try to fend off whatever it is that youre feeling. What are the most common things that can happen during one of these flare-ups?
Pain or spasms in the abdominal area, specifically around the stomach or the intestines. The lower it is in your abdomen, the more you want to pay attention to it and possibly get an evaluation so that you can see what is going on.
If your bowels are not acting as they normally would , it could be a sign of IBS.
Keep an eye on when youre having bowel movements and how often in order to get a better idea as to whether or not this may be a problem that youre dealing with.
Constipation and/or diarrhea as a result of eating or drinking something that would be referred to as a trigger for the issue.
Passing gas , especially if it happens excessively and you are uncomfortable and/or in pain before you actually pass the gas from your system.
Incontinence, which means that you are passing urine if you are unable to get to the toilet after an urgent feeling of going to the bathroom.
If you feel like you have to urgently go to the bathroom, even when seconds before you didnt feel like you had to do anything.
Your stools change in substance or structure .
The Ibs Buzzword: Fodmaps
The hot topic in flare-ups for irritable bowel syndrome is a group of poorly digested sugars and fibers called FODMAPs. The most common food sources of FODMAPs are wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes, dairy products, honey, apples, watermelons, peaches, apricots, blackberries, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. These molecules are digested by gut bacteria, which produce gas and bloating. It’s worth it to reduce these foods to see if your symptoms improve.
Increasing evidence, including a study in the January 2014 Gastroenterology, shows that a diet low in FODMAPs helps to tame IBS symptoms. “I’ve definitely seen this work. In fact, I’ve been using it to help people for a long time,” says gastroenterologist Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Other research shows that FODMAPs may even be the reason why diets low in gluten help relieve symptoms of people who believe they have gluten sensitivitydigestive problems triggered by gluten, a protein found in some whole grains such as barley, rye, and wheat.
Unfortunately, some of the foods that are high in FODMAPslike many fruits and vegetablesalso contain health-promoting chemicals. That’s why it’s best to work with a dietician to develop a low-FODMAP menu that fits your lifestyle.
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Stress And Anxiety Triggers For Ibs
- A sense that things are out of your control
How to Manage Stress:
- Choose healthy habits. Eat a well-balanced diet that works for your IBS. Get regular exercise and enough sleep.
- Do something fun as often as you can. Listen to music, read, shop, or take a walk.
- Learn better ways to calm down with behavioral therapy. There are a few types: relaxation therapy, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychotherapy.
- If you feel comfortable, talk to family members, close friends, your boss, or co-workers about your IBS. When they know whatâs going on, they can support you and better understand how it affects you.
Foods To Consume During An Ibs Attack
The good news is that many foods and drinks are known to be well tolerated in IBS. Some of the examples are water, ginger ale, Gatorade, Sprite, soy milk, rice milk, plain pasta, plain white rice, and baked or boiled potatoes .
Some other examples include white bread, plain fish, plain chicken, plain turkey, plain ham, soft boiled or poached eggs, plain cornflakes, Rice Krispies, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, oil, vinegar dressing, cooked carrots , peanut butter, jellies, and jams.
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Ibs Flare Up Symptoms
Some people will experience IBS on a daily basis, while others can go long periods of time without symptoms. An IBS flare up means that you are experiencing a sudden increase in IBS symptoms over a period of time. So what does an IBS flare up feel like? Common symptoms of an IBS attack can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Feelings of anxiety or depression
What Should I Not Eat During An Ibs Flare Up
While some foods may not trigger your IBS when you gut is feeling calm, during a flare up some foods may make things worse. The gut may feel inflamed and so it can be like adding fuel to a fire.
As mentioned, fatty and spicy foods in particular can be an aggravating factor so avoiding takeaways and fast food can be key. Additionally, coffee can interact with receptors in the gut, leading to increased urgency. This is often the last thing we want to do during a flare up.
Alcohol can also make things worse. While it may calm the anxiety that comes with a flare up it may be worth avoiding as your symptoms persist.
Another group of foods contain resistant starch. This is a type of carbohydrate that is not digested by humans, but by the bacteria that live in our colon. This is done by fermentation that produces lots of gas, which during a flare up may be leading to bloating, cramping and diarrhoea. Reducing your intake of foods high in resistant starch can be particularly helpful. This are foods such as
- pulses, sweetcorn, whole grains, green bananas and muesli that contains bran
- oven chips, crisps, potato waffles, fried rice
- processed food such as potato or pasta salad, or biscuits and cakes
You may also find it helpful to limit servings of fruit to 3 portions a day. A portion is around 80grams which translates to
- 1 x apple/banana/pear/orange
- 2 x plums
- 1 x handful of grapes
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Different Factors That Aggravate Ibs
Some researchers find that psychological factors seem to trigger the flare-ups and regulate the severity of the IBS, response to medical treatment, and persistence of the syndrome.
In fact, there are 23 unique psychological factors that are might be associated with IBS symptoms. The most common factors are:
Let’s take a quick look at each one of these.
How To Prevent An Attack
Understanding how to prevent an IBS attack can help you cope with this condition. Here are a few tips to reduce the frequency of an attack:
- Increase physical activity to regulate intestinal contractions and ease constipation. Exercise for at least 30 minutes three days a week.
- Eat at the same time every day to help regulate bowel function.
- Keep a food journal to identify trigger foods.
- Slowly increase your fiber intake to ease constipation. Too much fiber can cause diarrhea.
- Try probiotics. Increasing the good bacteria in your digestive tract may relieve symptoms of IBS. Take probiotics as a supplement or eat yogurt containing probiotics.
- Drink peppermint tea or take peppermint supplements to ease intestinal spasms.
- Learn how to manage stress. Practice yoga, meditation, or mindfulness, or find enjoyable activities to minimize stress and anxiety.
- Experiment with acupuncture. This alternative therapy might relieve IBS symptoms.
- Consult a hypnotherapist and learn ways to relax your abdominal muscles. This may reduce symptoms of an IBS attack.
- Change your pattern of thinking with cognitive behavioral therapy. This technique teaches you how to replace negative thought patterns with positive ones.
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