Because no one knows what causes IBS, it is impossible to prevent the disorder. Once diagnosed with IBS, a person may be able to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms by reducing stress or changing the diet.
One of the most helpful ways to treat IBS is to change your diet. This can minimize symptoms, or it can reduce the likelihood that an IBS attack will occur.
In almost every case, different foods tend to trigger IBS symptoms. Doctors recommend monitoring what you eat so you can find out what you ate before an attack. After you discover your particular trigger foods, eliminate them from your diet. Some common IBS trigger foods include:
Cabbage, broccoli, kale, legumes and other gas-producing foods
Fatty foods, including whole milk, cream, cheese, butter, oils, meats and avocados
Foods, gums and beverages that contain sorbitol, an artificial sweetener
The way you eat may help to create IBS symptoms. Eating large meals can cause cramping and diarrhea, so eating smaller meals more often may help some people with IBS. Eating quickly can cause you to swallow air, which can cause belching or gas.
Adding fiber to your diet, especially if constipation is one of your main symptoms, can help to loosen stools and reduce abdominal pain. At first, fiber will increase the amount of gas in your system, so add fiber gradually. Over time, the body adjusts to the effects of fiber and the gassiness will decrease. Fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals are good food sources of fiber. Your doctor may recommend a fiber supplement. Some experts believe that the fiber methylcellulose creates the least amount of gas, and brands of this fiber are often recommended for people with IBS. Psyllium is also a good source of fiber.
If your symptoms are not relieved after you eliminate trigger foods and add fiber, your doctor may prescribe medications. Depending on what your most difficult symptoms are, medications can include: