Your entire body aches and you notice that you are also experiencing cramping in your abdominal area. Could the abdominal pain be related to the rest?
Chances are yes. If you have either fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome, chances are you have the other as well. They often occur together, but the relationship is not clear.
Both of these conditions fall under a broader category that is referred to as functional disorders. This means that your body is not doing what it should, but physicians can’t pinpoint an exact reason why.
The condition of IBS is inside of your body- in your internal organs. On the other hand, fibro pain is centered on your skin and deep muscle tissues.
Even though the source of the pain differs, physicians do believe that the two are related. After all, with both of these conditions, there is more brain activity in the areas of your brain that process your pain.
The exact reason for these problems is not understood, but it is thought that it is due to your nervous system being hyperactive. In addition, your immune system and possibly your genetics play a role.
Stress can also be part of these types of disorders. One study showed that over half of individuals with fibro also had symptoms of PTSD, which affects the brain.
What are IBS Triggers
Before you can avoid your IBS triggers, you must know what they are. However, with some careful planning, you really can avoid the triggers that cause your condition of IBS to flare up.
Speak with your physician about creating an overall treatment plan for preventing IBS flares.
IBS Constipation Triggers
There are some foods that have been proven to increase constipation related to IBS. These include the following:
- refined foods such as cookies and chips
- refined cereals/bread
- caffeinated drinks
- carbonated drinks
- alcoholic drinks
- high protein
- dairy products
Strategies for preventing IBS constipation:
- If you are trying to prevent constipation associated with the condition of IBS, you should gradually increase your fiber consumption by 2-3 grams each day until you are getting somewhere between 20 to 35 grams.
- Consume foods that are high in sorbitol such as prune juice and dried plums.
- Make sure you’re drinking 64 ounces of water each day- plain water.
- Consider trying ground flaxseed- you can sprinkle it on cooked veggies and salads.
- IBS Diarrhea Triggers
On the other hand, there are some foods and drinks that can increase your symptoms of IBS diarrhea. These include the following:
- Too much fiber
- Large meals
- Fried/fatty foods
Strategies for preventing IBS diarrhea:
- Consume moderate amounts of soluble fiber, which will add bulk to your colon and help to prevent any spasms.
- Don’t consume food that is too hot or too cold at the same time.
- Avoid foods such as cabbage, onions, and broccoli- these cause gas, which can make diarrhea seem worse.
- Make sure to eat smaller meals.
- Drink 64 ounces of water each day- an hour before or an hour after eating, but not while eating.
In some cases, individuals with the condition of irritable bowel syndrome have symptoms that are very similar to those of lactose intolerance.
One way to reduce your symptoms is to try a trial of a lactose-free diet and avoid foods that cause excessive gas to see if your symptoms improve.
IBS Stress/Anxiety Triggers
In addition to dietary triggers, stress and anxiety can increase the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as bloating, diarrhea, stomach cramping, and constipation.
Of course, everyone is different and will, therefore, have different triggers for stress and anxiety. Some of the most common causes of stress include:
- Difficulties at home and/or work
- Financial difficulties
- Long commutes/traffic
- Sense of things being out of control
Strategies for preventing stress-related IBS flares:
First of all, if you want to prevent stress, you should start by practicing healthy lifestyle habits. Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet, getting enough rest/sleep, and getting adequate exercise.
Take the time to do things that you enjoy such as taking a walk, reading, shopping, or listening to music.
Learn some behavioral therapy techniques such as hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, biofeedback, and relaxation therapy.
Allow yourself to talk to others about what is going on- they may be able to provide you with the support you need.
In addition, speaking honestly to others can help clear up any potential misunderstandings when you experience a flare-up of symptoms and are unable to meet any commitments made.
Try to plan ahead when you’re going out or participating in activities. If you know that your IBS tends to make you be late for work, get up a bit earlier.
If you are going to be driving somewhere, make sure that you know where you can stop if you need a bathroom quickly.
If you are at a social event, try to sit near an aisle so that you can get to the bathroom.
Finally, know what you can eat before you go out so that you can be sure the food won’t be likely to trigger an attack.
Medication Triggers for IBS
There are some medications that can cause the colon to experience spasms and therefore cause a flare-up of IBS symptoms.
This can lead to diarrhea or constipation. Some of the most common medications that cause IBS symptoms to flare include the following:
- medications that contain sorbitol
Strategies for preventing medication-related IBS triggers:
- Speak with your physician regarding changing over to a medication that will not cause your IBS symptoms to flare- but never stop taking a medication without speaking with your physician first.
- If you are taking an antidepressant (after all, depression is common with fibro), speak with your physician about changing to something else. Some medications will cause symptoms at first, but these will clear up after being on the medication for a while.
Know that the symptoms of IBS are likely to be increased if you have a condition such as fibro. Speak with your physician about ways that you can combat this.