What Triggers a Bout of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

May 7th 2016

In general, people diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome should eat a balanced diet, consume highly nutritious foods and learn to relax whenever possible. Consult with your doctor regarding any digestive issues that occur for a long period time, as these symptoms may be a sign of something more serious. Your primary care physician can also recommend treatment options for irritable bowel syndrome.


Several types of foods can trigger irritable bowel syndrome. Avoid refined foods such as breads, cereals, chips and cookies. Coffee, carbonated drinks and alcohol may also irritate your bowel. High-protein diets and dairy products, such as cheese, could set off irritability as well.

Foods That Cause Diarrhea

Foods and drinks that cause diarrhea may exacerbate irritable bowel syndrome. Avoid foods with insoluble fiber, such as the skin of fruits and vegetables. Chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, fructose, carbonated drinks and the sugar substitute sorbitol can all cause diarrhea. People with lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivity should avoid dairy or wheat products, respectively. In general, large meals, fried foods and fatty foods may cause diarrhea as well.

Foods That Cause Dehydration

Foods that lead to dehydration may cause constipation. Chocolate, dairy products with lactose, unripe bananas and red meat can dehydrate certain individuals. Drinks such as soda, carbonated beverages, alcohol and coffee may cause dehydration, especially if your cells already require more water. Drink more water, or eat foods with soluble fiber to help prevent constipation in the first place.

Drugs and Medications

Three types of drugs may send your digestive tract into a tizzy. Antibiotics can cause digestive stress, especially after prolonged use. Antidepressants may also cause stomach upsets, and medicines that contain sorbitol can trigger diarrhea. Cough medicines represent the most common types of medications that contain sorbitol.

Hormonal Changes

Women are twice as likely to get irritable bowel syndrome as compared to men. For this reason, doctors believe the onset of menstruation may lead to irritable bowel syndrome in some women. Ease pain and discomfort during menses to try to get around this trigger.


Stress may lead to irritable bowel syndrome as the nervous system stimulates muscles in the digestive tract. Common causes of stress include problems at work, long commutes, financial worries, problems at home and psychological difficulties. Anxiety, or a growing sense that things could get out of control, may also exacerbate irritable bowel syndrome.


Irritable bowel syndrome has several causes and triggers associated with it. The malady causes gas, bloating and diarrhea in people whose digestive muscles work too quickly, or the condition may cause constipation and dry stools in people whose muscles work too slowly. Learn to combat irritable bowel syndrome by understanding triggers that may cause the condition.

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