IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) Triggers and Prevention

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Facts

Quick GuideIBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Diet, Treatment

IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Diet, Treatment

Are menstrual pain and IBS related?

Some studies show that many women with IBS have worse symptoms during their menstrual periods. Although the mechanism is not clear, some gastrointestinal cells have receptors for estrogen and progesterone so that changes in the hormone levels during the menstrual cycle may trigger increasing IBS symptoms.

What are the other triggers of IBS?

Other triggers of IBS are variable and differ from person to person. However some other common triggers of IBS are as follows:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Eating foods too quickly
  • Eating while under some other stress such as driving or working
  • Eating foods that are very hot or cold
  • Chewing gum

People with IBS should keep a journal and record the symptoms and the activities they are doing when IBS symptoms develop. This action can help determine their personal triggers for IBS symptoms.

How can I prevent triggers for IBS?

There are many different ways to help prevent you from triggering IBS symptoms such as:

  • Eat a balanced diet with a moderate amount of fiber
  • Avoid extremes of food temperatures (very hot or cold foods)
  • Do not eat while under anxiety or stressful conditions (while working or driving, for example).
  • Avoid foods and drinks that may cause dehydration or diarrhea
  • Keep a journal to help identify those foods that are do or do not trigger IBS symptoms.
  • Reduce stressors and anxiety; biofeedback, exercise and even probiotics.
  • Discuss medications you are taking that may be triggering IBS symptoms with your doctor.
  • Avoid those foods and drinks that are likely to increase or trigger IBS symptoms.
  • Avoid foods that increase intestinal gas (some legumes and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts)

Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine


National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

UpToDate. Patient information: Irritable bowel syndrome (Beyond the Basics).

UpToDate. Patient information: Gas and bloating (Beyond the Basics).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/22/2016

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