Updated 17 August 2017

Identifying what triggers your IBS

Sponsored: IBS symptoms differ from person to person, so what you really need to do is connect the dots to find out what your personal triggers are.


Not only is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) a frustrating and often debilitating disorder, but did you know that Male IBS sufferers are almost three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED)?1 

IBS is a "functional" bowel disorder, i.e. a problem caused by changes in how the gut works, and the most common symptoms are abdominal pain or discomfort, cramps, diarrhoea or constipation (or a combination of both), bloating, and gas.2-4

Researchers believe a combination of physical and mental health problems lead to IBS, and one possible cause of IBS is a "dysfunction of the brain-gut axis" (BGA).5

Hidden in the walls of your gut is your “second brain”, and the two brains talk to each other.

The BGA links the emotional and cognitive thought centres of the brain with the GI tract, and a "dysfunction" of the BGA results in a breakdown of normal digestive function, leading to diarrhoea or constipation.6

This "dysfunction" can be caused by a number of things such as diet and lifestyle changes, including stress and anxiety which are classified as major triggers of IBS, as mentioned in the previous insert.

In a study, ED risk was greater for ageing men who had IBS in the presence of one or more of the following conditions1:

- Diabetes

- Heart disease

- Kidney disease

- Depression

IBS symptoms differ from person to person, so what you really need to do is connect the dots to find out what your personal triggers are. Downloading a Trigger Diary specifically designed for IBS sufferers may be helpful. 

Unfortunately, IBS cannot be cured, but with careful planning it can be managed.

The road to controlling your IBS starts with TRACKING your symptoms (i.e. identifying what triggers your IBS), then ACTING on it by talking to your Doctor about your symptoms and triggers, and finally by MANAGING your IBS through careful diet and lifestyle changes and stress control measures.

See www.stressandmystomach.co.za for more information on how to control and better manage your IBS.

References: 1. Chao, C H et al. Increased subsequent risk of erectile dysfunction in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a nationwide population-based cohort study. Andrology 2013. Stable URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2047-2927.2013.00120.x/abstract;jsessionid=4BE2E9BB3CAB74F3268813E69EB29B8E.f02t01. 2. Quigley E, Gwee KA, Olano C, et al. Irritable bowel syndrome: a global perspective. World Gastroenterology Organization Global Guideline. April 20, 2009. 1-20. 3. Longstreth GF, Thompson WG, Chey WD, et al. Functional bowel disorders. Gastroenterology 2006; 130: 1480-1491. 4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Triggers and Prevention. Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on July 04, 2012© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. Available at http://www.webmd.com/ibs/guide/ ibs-triggers-prevention-strategies. Accessed 6 March 2014. 5. National Institute Of Diabetes And Digestive And Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Available at http://digestive.niddk.nih. gov/ddiseases/pubs/ibs/ibs_508.pdf. Accessed on 12 November 2013. 6. Prins A. Review Article: The brain-gut interaction: the conversation and the implications. S Afr J Clin Nutr 2011; 24(3) Supplement: 8-14. 7. Hungin AP, Chang L, Locke GR, Dennis EH, Barghout V. Irritable bowel syndrome in the United States: prevalence, symptom patterns and impact. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Jun 1;21(11):1365-1375. 

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