What are Common Triggers for IBS?

triggers for IBS irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is the most common functional gastrointestinal disorder. The signs and symptoms of IBS can vary widely from person to person. Symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain or cramping, gas or feeling bloated and diarrhea or constipation. Some habits can cause the symptoms of your IBS to flare up. Once you identify your IBS triggers, you can work with our colorectal clinic to avoid them in your daily life.

Common Triggers for IBS:


Some foods can make IBS-related constipation worse, including bread and pasta, processed foods, coffee and carbonated beverages, dairy and high-protein diets. Other foods can make IBS-related diarrhea worse, including fibrous vegetables and fruits, carbonated drinks, fried and fatty foods, dairy and artificial sweetener.

Stress and Anxiety

Studies have shown that stress and anxiety can make IBS symptoms worse. These sources of worry include everything from work and family like to money problems or your long morning commute. You can work to better manage stress by eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep, do things you enjoy, talk to friends or family, and try ways to calm down like meditation or walking outside.


Some prescribed medications can cause constipation or diarrhea including: antibiotics, antidepressants and pain medications. Talk with your primary care doctor or colorectal specialist about switching to a medication that won’t trigger your IBS symptoms.


A sedentary lifestyle or chronic lack of exercise can trigger IBS symptoms. Eating too quickly, chewing gum, eating while under stress or eating foods that are very hot or cold can also augment the symptoms of IBS.

There are several ways to reduce or eliminate the causes that trigger your IBS symptoms. Identifying your IBS triggers is the first step in learning to reduce your symptoms. IBS treatment starts with eating a balanced diet, avoiding food and drinks that can cause diarrhea or constipation, reducing personal stress or anxiety and discussing any medications you’re taking with your doctor.