Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms—including abdominal pain and changes in the pattern of bowel movements without any evidence of underlying damage. Onset may be triggered by an intestinal infection, or stressful life event. Red flag signs include onset at greater than 50 years of age, weight loss, blood in the stool, or a family history of inflammatory bowel disease or colon carcinoma.
Usually, with a few basic changes in diet and activities, IBS will improve over time. Here are some tips to help reduce symptoms:
Avoid caffeine (in coffee, teas, and sodas).
Add more fiber to your diet with foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.
Drink at least three to four glasses of water per day.
Learn to relax, either by getting more exercise or by reducing stress in your life.
Limit milk or cheese.
Eat smaller meals more often instead of big meals.
Keep a record of the foods you eat so you can figure out which foods bring on bouts of IBS.