Top Ways to Make Your IBS Flare Up

The Following Things Could Cause Your IBS To Flare Up

Keeping your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) under control can feel like a full-time job. That's because it is. Avoiding potential triggers can help prevent a flare-up. You may be doing things that are worsening your IBS. Do you know what they are?


Cigarette. Photo © hinnamsaisuy /
Smoking cigarettes affects the entire body, not just the lungs and respiratory tract. When smoke is inhaled into the body, it also enters the stomach and intestines. Tobacco is a known irritant to the digestive tract that cause bloating, cramping, gas, and stomach rumbling.

Don't Drink Water

Every person's water needs are different. Check with your health care team to find out how much you should be drinking. Photo © Anusorn P nachol

If all you give your body all day is coffee and diet cola, you can't expect your digestive tract to treat you well. Water is essential to the good health of your entire body, as well helpful in preventing constipation and replacing fluids lost from diarrhea.

Don't Exercise

Exercise can help spike your energy level. Plus, it's good for you. Photo © Danilo Rizzuti

If you could spend 30 minutes a day doing something that would improve your overall health…, wouldn't you do it? That's what exercise can do. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes most days of the week. It doesn't have to be a contiguous 30 minutes; you can also do 3 episodes of 10 minutes, or 2 episodes of 15.


Ignore Stress

Stress is unavoidable. What's important is how you respond to it. Photo © m_bartosch /
Stress does not cause IBS, but it will worsen it. Everyone has stress of one form or another -- the important thing is your reaction to it. Turn stress into something positive: Use it to fuel your creativity and spur yourself into taking action on your problems. Don't let stress fester until it affects your health.

Eat Large Meals

Cheeseburger. Image © Rob Owen-Wahl

We all love to eat, but eating 3 large meals a day is not the best strategy for optimal digestive health. Instead, try 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the day. You won't have that heavy feeling after eating, and your body will receive a steady stream of fuel all day, instead of repeated spikes and dips.

Skip Sleep

Your worries and cares can keep you awake at night. It may not always be an easy thing to do, but putting aside your worries for another time can help you get to sleep at night. Photo © David Castillo

Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Are you scheduling this amount into your day, every day? Maybe you have trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep. Try practicing better sleep hygiene to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep.

Eat Your Trigger Foods

Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken. Image © Rob Owen-Wahl
Trigger foods vary from person to person with IBS, but some basic themes are: fatty foods, fried foods, carbonated beverages, and insoluble fiber. Learn what your trigger foods are and avoid them.

Drink Alcoholic Beverages

Beer. Image © dcubillas

This is a hard one, especially for younger people. But beer (which tends to be gassy), wine, and mixed drinks (which often contain other triggers such as fruit juice or caffeinated beverages) can be hard on the gastrointestinal tract.

Eat Processed Foods

Abdominal Pain
Abdominal Pain. Photo © Ohmega1982

Processed foods often contain additives such as sugar or fat substitutes. Many of these artificial flavorings are known to be gastrointestinal irritants. Even people who do not have a diagnosed digestive condition may experience gas, diarrhea, bloating, and pain after eating food additives.

Don't Seek Help

Support Advice And Help Dice
Support Advice And Help Dice. Photo © Stuart Miles
Help can come from friends, family, coworkers, and your health-care team. Seek help from those closest to you for help in sticking to your IBS diet and reducing stress. Don't be afraid to accept help and good advice when it is offered from a trusted source.

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