7 common IBS triggers that aren’t food

Most folks with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have a listing of meals that are likely to set off signs.

What causes IBS to flare up can differ from individual to individual, whether or not it’s spicy takeaways, an excessive amount of wheat, dairy, yeast or FODMAPs (short-chain carbohydrates/sugars recognised as a typical perpetrator in IBS) – leading to bouts of stomach cramps, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and extra fuel.

But meals isn’t the one factor to contemplate. There’s a complete vary of different elements which may play an element in IBS…

1. Certain medicines

Whether medicines have an effect on IBS varies vastly, says Dr Subashini M, Holland & Barrett’s director of science, well being and wellness ( “You might also find that one preparation of a medication can cause problems but another might not, as the IBS might be triggered not by the drug, but by other additives.”

Lots of issues can set off IBS signs (Alamy/PA)

That being mentioned, some medicines are extra recognized for inflicting IBS points, together with tricyclic antidepressants and opiate ache reduction (“these have a tendency to cause constipation, which can exacerbate IBS”), SSRI antidepressants (which “can cause diarrhoea”) and antibiotics. “These can exacerbate IBS via side effects of constipation or diarrhoea, but also because they can kill both the ‘good’ as well as ‘bad’ bacteria in our gut,” notes Subashini M.

If you assume prescribed medicines are making your IBS worse, it’s necessary to not cease taking them with out steering out of your physician. “If your symptoms are difficult to tolerate, do go back to ask if there are alternatives,” says Subashini M, who suggests taking probiotics alongside them – and “for at least four weeks” afterwards within the case of antibiotics – may also help.

2. Alcohol

“Studies suggest high levels of alcohol intake, especially binge drinking, is associated with an increase in IBS symptoms,” says Subashini M.

As effectively as how a lot booze you’re consuming, you would “choose low-FODMAP alcoholic beverages, as they might have less of an impact on your IBS” (though bear in mind to contemplate the mixers for those who’re choosing spirits). “Drinking water to stay hydrated while drinking alcohol, eating when you drink, and pacing yourself when you are drinking might also help,” she provides.

3. Stress and nervousness

Our guts and brains are intently linked, so it’s no shock stress can play an enormous half in IBS. “Having IBS causes disturbances in the balance between your brain and gut, with stress and anxiety sometimes triggering overactivity of the gut, causing diarrhoea and stomach churning,” explains Dr Luke Powles, medical director at Bupa Health Clinics ( – and it’s a two-way road.

“While stress and anxiety can trigger IBS, IBS can also trigger anxiety and stress – particularly if you’re worrying about experiencing symptoms in social settings or at work.”

Relatable? If intense or ongoing stress is affecting you, have a take into consideration the place it’s coming from. “Once you know what your stressors are, there are steps you can take you help you cope and manage it,” says Powles. “A good place to start is make sure you’re exercising, you can also try meditation and yoga, focus on deep breathing, [and] try to get at least seven to eight hours’ sleep a night.” Speaking to a healthcare skilled about it could actually additionally assist.

4. Poor sleep

“IBS has also been linked with lower sleep quality,” says Subashini M – though she factors on the market’s restricted analysis into precisely how they’re linked. It might be extra of a “correlation” than easy trigger and impact. For instance, poor sleep can be linked with despair and excessive stress ranges – each doable elements in IBS, too.

If you might be combating IBS flares, addressing any sleep points isn’t a foul concept. Subashini M suggests “even simple measures to improve sleep, such as sleeping at regular times and adopting good sleep hygiene” might assist.

5. Periods

“Many people find their IBS symptoms worsen during their period. While more research is needed into this link, it is thought the change in hormones impact the gastrointestinal tract,” says Powles.

What to do? “Tweak your diet around your menstrual cycle so you are avoiding gassy foods, such as beans and lentils, broccoli, asparagus, pears and onions – this can help through the worst days,” suggests Powles. “Use a hot water bottle to help ease the pain of both menstrual and IBS cramps.”

6. Eating too quick or on the go

“Eating in a rush can mean you may not chew your food enough, leading to large chunks of food in the stomach, which are harder to digest and can cause wind, bloating or burping,” explains Powles. “Enzymes in our saliva are really important to help start breaking down food, so give all food a good chew before swallowing.”

You may additionally swallow extra air for those who eat too quick or on the go, which gained’t assist issues. “Try to take your time over your food and sit up straight at a table, rather than hunched over your desk or balancing your plate on your knees, to help with digestion,” Powles provides.

7. A really sedentary way of life

An energetic way of life may also help IBS (Alamy/PA)

When digestive points flare up, train may be the very last thing you are feeling like doing – however aiming for an energetic way of life total might assist. “It’s recommended people with IBS take regular exercise, both for the mental health and wellbeing benefits, but also because exercise can help food, waste and air move through your digestive system,” says Powles.

“Try to incorporate gentle exercises like yoga, swimming, walking or jogging into your routine around three to five times a week.”

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