IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is among the most common gastrointestinal disorders, affecting as much as 15 percent of the world’s population. It is chronic in nature, and flare-ups can leave sufferers wondering if they will ever be free of the bloating, constipation, and cramping that often accompany the condition. However, there are steps that patients can take to manage their symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Perhaps the most important of these is identifying the triggers that aggravate IBS in the first place. And, while such triggers can differ for everyone, there are a few that are commonly observed across a large percentage of patients.
Sugar as an IBS Trigger
Unsurprisingly, what we consume can take a major toll on the digestive system. For IBS sufferers, in particular, certain dietary choices can wreak havoc, and various forms of sugar are often the worst culprits. These include:
- Fermentable sugar, or fructans, found in many wheat products including breads and pasta
- Sugars from alcohol
- Artificial sweeteners containing sugar alcohols such as sorbitol
Stress-Related IBS Symptoms
The gut has a stronger connection to mental health than many realize. Conditions such as stress and anxiety have a high level of comorbidity with IBS, meaning the two appear together frequently. Furthermore, drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used, not just in the treatment of depression and anxiety, but in the treatment of IBS as well. For many patients, gaining greater control over mental health also equates to improvement of IBS.
Impact of Sleep on IBS
Sleep is restorative and necessary for many key areas of health. Research has highlighted a connection between poor sleep and worsening of IBS symptoms, suggesting that the appropriate quantity and quality of sleep can make a significant, positive impact on the condition. For many, relatively simple changes to sleep habits and spaces can make a drastic difference.
Vitamin D and IBS
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in keeping the gut healthy and promoting proper function of the immune system. Often, IBS patients are found to also be suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency. In these cases, taking a Vitamin D supplement can result in improvement of IBS symptoms such as bloating, cramping, and diarrhea.
If you are one of the many Americans suffering from embarrassing and painful IBS symptoms, understand that there is help available. By identifying and addressing your triggers appropriately, as well as working with a skilled gastroenterology physician, you can minimize the disease’s impact on your life and routine. Contact a GI Alliance gastroenterologist today, and request your appointment to learn more about your condition and available treatment options.