Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder of the intestines. IBS is also known as functional colitis, intestinal neurosis, irritable colon, laxative colitis, mucous colitis, nervous indigestion, and spastic colon. The cause is unknown. With IBS, the muscles in the colon do not work normally and may spasm. If you have IBS, your colon may be more sensitive, reacting strongly to food and medication. Food allergies and certain bacteria may add to the symptoms. IBS may also occur after having the stomach flu.
Symptoms usually come and go and range from mild to severe. They include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Gas and bloating
- Pain that resolves with a bowel movement
- Loose stools
- Alternating diarrhea and constipation
- Urge to move bowels again immediately following a bowel movement
- Mucus in the stool
These factors may worsen your symptoms:
- Menstrual periods
- Large meals or fatty foods
- Excess gas
The following changes to your diet may help control symptoms:
- Keep a food diary of what you eat and how your body responds. It will help to identify if you have a food allergy.
- Make gradual changes to your diet. Record the results.
- Avoid foods that have caused problems in the past.
- Avoid foods and drinks that may cause symptoms:
- High fat foods, spicy foods
- Dairy products
- Onions, cabbage, and other gas-producing food
- Large amounts of alcohol or caffeine
- Eat foods that may reduce the chance of spasm, such as:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains and other high-fiber foods (More fiber may increase gas and bloating until your body adjusts.)
- Eat smaller meals more often or smaller portions.
- Eat slowly and try not to swallow air.
- Drink plenty of water. This will help to reduce constipation. General recommendation: you weight / 2 = water in oz/day