Despite having similar symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are entirely different conditions. IBD is an umbrella term for a group of diseases, including colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Inflammatory bowel diseases, as the name suggests, cause inflammation in the digestive tract due to a faulty immune system response. On the other hand, IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder whose cause is unknown that affects proper muscle contractions in the large intestine.

Understanding IBS and IBD Symptoms

IBD and IBS both affect the gastrointestinal tract and cause chronic symptoms. IBS can be diagnosed if an individual experiences symptoms for longer than a few months, which typically are constipation, diarrhea, stomach cramps, bloating, and gassiness.

In most cases, people with IBS either suffer from diarrhea or constipation the most, but they may also have alternating spells of both. Unlike IBD, IBS does not cause inflammation in the digestive tract.

The primary symptoms of IBD are typically diarrhea and stomach pain or cramps. Instead of alternating symptoms, though, with IBD, the dominant symptoms are often chronic and severe. The symptoms and pain experienced in IBD also vary depending on whether an individual has ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease as though these diseases belong in the same family, they can differ.

For instance, colitis primarily affects the large intestine, whereas Crohn’s disease can inflame the entire intestinal tract. Both inflammatory bowel diseases are caused by the same irregular immune system response, which turns the body against itself and attacks the lining of the GI tract.

In more severe cases, the trademark symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, and bloating can be accompanied by fever, fatigue, appetite loss, weight loss, and blood in stools, which can be a cause for concern.

IBS vs IBD: Long-Term Risks

IBD is a lot more serious than IBS and can potentially be life-threatening relative to IBS. The biggest risks associated with IBS are typically malnutrition caused by diarrhea coupled with pain and a loss of appetite, and also hemorrhoids due to constipation and straining. While IBS can be uncomfortable and have a general impact on one’s overall quality of life without treatment and lifestyle changes, IBS is manageable and not deadly.

IBD, however, is an inflammatory disease by nature, so it comes with bigger risks. Without proper care, monitoring, and treatment, IBD can result in serious bowel obstructions, ulcers that can lead to infections, and even colorectal cancer in some cases.

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IBS Causes and Prevention

IBS causes

Irritable bowel syndrome, also commonly referred to as IBS, is a digestive disorder that affects the colon and causes stomach pain and discomfort, diarrhea, constipation, gassiness, and bloating. While it is typically not a life-threatening condition, IBS causes are currently unclear. However, there are many treatment options to manage IBS symptoms.

Lifestyle modifications are important in treating IBS in addition to medications. Most people with IBS improve their symptoms by cutting out foods that they know trigger flare-ups and severe symptoms, which can be anything from lactose to stress.

The exact cause of IBS is still a mystery, though researchers believe that it is due to a nervous system malfunction that leads to irregular contractions in the large intestine.

What Causes Severe IBS Symptoms and Flare-Ups?

Too Much Stress

Stress does not directly result in IBS but is a common trigger as it worsens cramping and bloating. Stress management is essential to keep IBS symptoms under control.

Meditation, regular physical activity as well as breathing exercises are ideal stress management tools. Biofeedback is also an effective option that teaches you to gain control over your body’s natural responses to stress and consequently lowering its impact on IBS.

Food Triggers

Although every person with IBS has different triggers, there are some food triggers that are known to exacerbate IBS in most people with the condition. Some of these are cauliflower, broccoli, beans, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, and dairy products. Gluten intolerance or lactose intolerance can be an underlying reason for severe IBS symptoms as well.

Alcohol and Caffeine

In addition to drinking lots of water to keep your gastrointestinal tract hydrated, you should avoid known GI stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, which includes energy drinks as well. Beverages with high-sugar content can also cause diarrhea.

IBS Medications

Over-the-counter antidiarrheals, bile acid binders, and cholestyramine work to relieve diarrhea in mild cases. Increasing your fiber intake is important if your primary IBS symptom is constipation, which can also be achieved by taking supplements. In more severe cases, antidepressants improve IBS symptoms. There are also newer medications like alosetron and rifaximin for diarrhea, and linaclotide for constipation.

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What Diet Is Right for IBS?

What Diet Is Right for IBS?

IBS, or Irritable bowel syndrome, is a common gastrointestinal condition that affects the large intestine. Though IBS is not life-threatening, it results in uncomfortable and painful symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, bloating, and gassiness. So what diet is right for IBS?

IBS does not have a cure, but there are many ways to manage and improve symptoms. An important part of IBS treatment is making necessary dietary changes to prevent severe symptoms.

Having an IBS-friendly diet, however, is not always that clear-cut as everyone’s triggers differ. However, after a short period of trial and error, it is relatively easy to devise a diet plan that will not trigger IBS symptoms. Here are some common approaches to planning a diet is designed to keep IBS symptoms at bay in most people with the condition.

Increasing Your Fiber Intake

Fiber is an essential nutrient that promotes not only digestive health but also cardiovascular health. In constipation-dominant IBS cases, having a fiber-rich diet is vital to relieve constipation and improve irregularity. Most adults need an intake of around 25-38 grams of dietary fiber per day. While you may incorporate more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grain/wheat products into your diet to increase your daily fiber, which can potentially cause bloating, you can also take fiber supplements.

Lowering Your Fiber Intake

When IBS is diarrhea-dominant, having a diet low in fiber can be beneficial. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. If your IBS often causes diarrhea and gassiness, you need to make sure your diet is low in insoluble fiber which can worsen diarrhea. However, soluble fiber should still be an important part of your diet. Peeled fruits and fruits like bananas and berries are high in soluble fiber.

Eliminating Trigger Foods

In some cases, people with IBS only experience symptoms when they consume particular types of foods. If you do not have a known allergy to dairy or wheat, it is typically difficult to pinpoint what triggers your IBS symptoms. So this is where the elimination method comes in where you cut out certain foods out of your diet for set periods of time at a time to determine which ones are to blame. Some well-known culprits are nuts, dairy, caffeine, chocolate, and foods rich in insoluble fiber.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Explained

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a chronic digestive disorder that affects the colon, afflicting nearly 1 in five people in the United States.

IBS most commonly diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain and cramps, bloating, gassiness, and irregularity. Although the symptoms of IBS can be similar to inflammatory bowel diseases such as colitis, IBS is an entirely different condition.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

While everyone experiences different symptoms with varying levels of severity, the most common IBS symptoms are stomach cramps and pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gassiness, diarrhea, stool with mucus. IBS symptoms come and go, and the condition is often triggered by lifestyle choices such as dietary habits.

IBS also has a close link to your weight. Some IBS symptoms such as cramps, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea can lead to malnutrition and a lack of intake of nutrients. It is important to manage your IBS symptoms to be able to have a balanced, nutritious diet also to prevent more symptoms in the future.

What causes IBS?

While the exact cause of IBS is unknown, a lot of factors go into the development of the condition. When the muscles that line the walls of the intestines cannot contract or spasm efficiently, this results in the IBS symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gassiness.  Some research also suggests that an irregularity in the nervous system can be the primary cause of IBS, leading to weak signaling between the intestines and brain.

IBS triggers differ person to person, but certain triggers tend to cause IBS to worsen in many individuals with the condition. Some common food triggers are spicy foods, high-fat or high-carb foods, beans, caffeine, and chocolate.

Hormonal imbalances can also lead to IBS symptoms, which also explains why women are at an increased risk of developing IBS and are more likely to experience symptoms during their fertile period. Finally, stress is a major IBS trigger and worsens IBS symptoms drastically.

Treating IBS

Without knowing the exact cause, IBS remains incurable. However, in most cases, with lifestyle changes, particularly dietary modifications, along with over-the-counter medications, the condition is highly manageable.

Avoiding stress, getting enough rest, and drinking lots of water is also essential in promoting digestive health. In more severe cases, there are more medical treatment options such as antidiarrheals, antispasmodics, and antidepressants should you doctor believe they should help in your case.

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Diagnosing IBS

Diagnosing IBS

IBS, aka irritable bowel syndrome, is a disorder that afflicts millions worldwide. IBS affects the large intestine, causing irregular muscle contractions in the large intestine. Most common IBS symptoms of are diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, bloating, and gassiness. Most people with IBS either dominantly experience diarrhea or constipation, or in some cases, alternating bouts of the two with accompanying symptoms such as cramps, discomfort, and flatulence. Because the symptoms can sometimes relate to other diseases, diagnosing IBS can be tricky.

What Causes IBS?

What exactly causes IBS is unknown, but there are many theories. In cases where no internal deformities, infections, or tumors are detected, researchers believe that IBS is caused by the irregular functioning of the nervous system. Another popular theory is that IBS is a result of the body not producing or being able to make use of the essential live bacteria in the gut for the healthy function of the digestive tract.

IBS Triggers

A lot of things can trigger IBS, and everyone’s triggers are different. So identifying your own triggers is not always very clear-cut and easy.  Some of the most common IBS triggers, however, are dairy, gluten, stimulants such as caffeine, spicy foods, and chocolate. Additionally, stress and hormonal imbalances can also result in IBS symptoms, as well as various medications.

Diarrhea, cramps, constipation, and bloating can be a natural and normal anatomical response when it happens occasionally, but when it lasts longer than a couple of months on end, this typically points to a condition that can wreak havoc on the digestive system, including IBS.

Diagnosing IBS

There is no one test that diagnoses IBS, and because the condition is similar to many other diseases such IBD, a thorough examination is typically needed for diagnosis, including a detailed discussion of symptoms, medical history, and even allergy and blood tests to rule everything out.

For instance, your doctor may want to find out whether you have dairy or gluten intolerant, which can explain the symptoms. Once every other possibility is ruled out, it is usually IBS.

Living with IBS

In some cases, when people eliminate foods that cause their IBS to worsen out of their diet, their symptoms improve naturally. IBS can be uncomfortable and painful, which can ultimately have an overall impact on your everyday life. So it is important to understand that the symptoms that normally do not sound very grave such as diarrhea, constipation, and bloating should be taken seriously when they persist for long.

Once you know you have IBS, living with the condition and preventing its symptoms is relatively easy with the right lifestyle choices and treatment. Changing your diet habits, exercising regularly, limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake, and avoiding stress are essential tips to lead a normal and healthy life with IBS.

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What are the Symptoms of IBS?

Symptoms of IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome, more commonly known as IBS, is a prevalent digestive disorder that causes irregular muscle contractions in the large intestine, resulting in uncomfortable symptoms. What are the symptoms of IBS?

Due to these spasms or contractions, people with IBS experience symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, stomach cramps, bloating, and gassiness. The exact cause of IBS is still unknown, but most research points to an irregularity in the function of the nervous system, motor nerves, and possibly live bacteria in the gut.

Most individuals begin to exhibit IBS symptoms at an early age, typically between their teens and early 20s. However, IBS can occur at any time depending on triggers. IBS is also more prevalent among women as they represent around 80% of all IBS cases.

Primary IBS Symptoms

People with IBS symptoms exhibit a number of symptoms, but stomach pain and diarrhea or constipation are the most commonly reported complaints. Stomach pain caused by IBS typically feels like cramps coupled with bloating and flatulence.

IBS can either be diarrhea-dominant or constipation-dominant. However, some individuals experience bouts of diarrhea and constipation equally. Most individuals with IBS also experience an urge to relieve themselves following a meal that is dairy-based or high in carbohydrates such as refined sugar or gluten.

Additional IBS Symptoms

In addition to constipation, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and bloating, these symptoms can also be caused by IBS: nausea, fatigue, back pain, headaches, and difficulty sleeping.

Understanding IBS Treatment

IBS is typically manageable and treatable with lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications. However, if these options do not improve your symptoms and they persist for longer than a few months, consulting a doctor is vital.

If your doctor can rule out other conditions that cause similar symptoms, they can prescribe stronger medications to alleviate IBS symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Pinpointing triggers, especially foods that worsen IBS, is also an integral part of treating IBS and preventing severe symptoms. Having a food journal to track the foods that exacerbate IBS symptoms could also be helpful in avoiding symptoms. To give an idea, some foods that are known to trigger IBS symptoms are gluten, dairy, spicy foods, chocolate, and stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol.

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Treating IBS

Treating IBS

IBS, also known as irritable bowel syndrome, is a digestive disorder that affects the large intestine and can have an overall impact on an individual’s life due to the discomfort its symptoms causes. So what does treating IBS involve?

Understanding IBS Symptoms

IBS symptoms vary individual to individual, including their severity. However, most common IBS symptoms people report include diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, bloating, and gas. While some people with IBS may suffer from only one or a few of these symptoms, there are some who experience all of these symptoms on and off.

Can IBS Be Cured?

IBS currently does not have a cure, but it is a work in progress as the ways to treat the condition have also advanced over the last decade. Most research today puts emphasis on the live bacteria present in the gut that our body naturally produces. However, since there is a wide variety of bacteria in the human body, determining the bacteria or the lack thereof that causes IBS has not been an easy feat. Scientists believe that the more live bacteria there are in the stomach, the easier it will become to cure IBS.

IBS and Your Diet

Changing your diet habits is one of the surefire ways to manage and treat irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. In most cases, IBS is triggered by certain foods, but every individual has different food triggers.

The ideal way to improve IBS symptoms to pinpoint the foods that worsen your condition and cut them out of your diet. Using the elimination method, you can try eliminating suspect foods for particular periods of time to figure out your triggers. It is recommended that people with IBS make a habit of keeping a food diary as well to keep track of the foods that cause symptoms.

Some common culprits are dairy, gluten, chocolate, and for some people, even vegetables and foods high in insoluble fiber as this can worsen diarrhea. IBS treatment is different for every patient because everyone responds to treatment differently.

In some cases, making dietary changes may not be enough, so taking over-the-counter or prescription drugs may be needed. Discussing your symptoms and whether dietary changes improve them with your doctor is an important part of your treatment.

Alternative IBS Treatments

Regular exercise and drinking lots of water are two natural ways to promote healthy digestive function as well. Stress can also be an IBS trigger, so regular exercise can kill two birds with one stone, especially if you practice yoga in addition to incorporating a cardiovascular activity such as jogging into your regimen.

If no natural and over-the-counter treatment options prove to be effective and improve symptoms, it is essential to consult a doctor for stronger treatment approaches to get your IBS symptoms under control to prevent it from interfering with your everyday life.

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Remedying IBS

Remedying IBS

IBS, also known as irritable bowel syndrome, is a condition that affects up to 45 million people in the United States alone. IBS symptoms vary in every individual and can be mild to severe. IBS primarily impairs the way the large intestine functions and causes symptoms such as stomach pain and discomfort, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas. Remedying IBS can be a challenge.

Although IBS does not have a cure as its exact cause is unknown, there are effective ways to manage the symptoms. In most cases where IBS symptoms are not severe, people are able to manage their condition with dietary and lifestyle changes, over-the-counter medications, as well as natural treatment options.

Your Diet

Making dietary changes is a major step in improving IBS symptoms as many foods are known to be IBS triggers. Keeping close tabs on the foods that result in IBS symptoms is a sound way to eliminate triggers from your diet. You can also try the elimination diet to cut out certain suspect foods for a duration to see whether your symptoms improve.

It is also important to note that stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, and sweets/chocolate are known to worsen IBS symptoms like stomach pain and gas. Dairy and wheat can also contribute to severe IBS symptoms.

A Healthy Lifestyle

Eliminating lifestyle habits and adopting new ones that can keep IBS symptoms at bay is also essential. Regular exercise, for instance, boosts metabolism, regulates muscle spasms, and can be especially beneficial if your primary IBS symptom is constipation.

Having a regular meal schedule can also help you manage IBS symptoms and promote regularity. Drinking lots of water (at least eight glasses a day) is also vital for digestive health.


In addition to lifestyle modifications, antidiarrheals, bile acid binders, and antispasmodic (controls stomach spasms) are also medications most typically used to relieve IBS symptoms. In more advanced cases, your doctor may recommend antidepressants which are not uncommon in treating IBS.

Natural Treatments

Even though there is no scientific research backing up the efficacy of most natural IBS remedies, there are some recommended options you can incorporate into your long-term IBS management plan.

Increasing your intake of probiotics is a naturally effective way to promote digestive health, and peppermint oil is also known to improve IBS symptoms. Avoiding stress is also essential in preventing IBS symptoms so meditation, yoga, and acupuncture can also help in treating IBS.

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