Diet and Nutrition

IBS Risk Factors

IBS Risk Factors

Risk Factors for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A fairly common gastrointestinal disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), is often characterized by symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and in some cases back pain. A large number of adults experience irritable bowel syndrome at some point of their life, but most of the time, it goes undiagnosed. Not everybody suffers in the same way with irritable bowel syndrome, so it is often difficult to diagnose the disease.

Chronic, irritable bowel syndrome is not life threatening, but can often be an ailment you will have to deal with for the rest of your life. Erratic and unpredictable, IBS can occur anytime, for a few days or for a few weeks.

Doctors are not sure the real causes of irritable bowel syndrome, but some factors play an important role or accelerate the risk of having this condition. Many people experience irregular signs and symptoms. And if you have been wondering about IBS risk factors, here is a snapshot of some of the chief contributors: 


If you are a woman you are twice likely to have the condition than a man. Though it isn’t clear why this is so, research experts suspect that the changing hormones during the menstrual cycle are one of the biggest contributing factors to IBS. This theory is supported by the fact that many women have fewer irritable bowel symptoms post menopause.



If you’re approaching your 20th – 40th birthday, you need to be careful about your health. Research indicates that, although everyone can have IBS, those people in their teens through 40s are more likely to have it than the other ages.


Family history

Just like many conditions such as cancer, IBS tends to be hereditary. That means if one or so members of your family have IBS, you’re more likely to have it. This, according to several studies, has to do with genes. However, there is no clear statistical analysis to authenticate this.


Emotional trouble

It is known that stress can trigger many physical ailments, and irritable bowel syndrome is no exception.

Stress, mental disorders, and trauma have great bearing on IBS. According to research, people who have ever been affected by stress, anxiety, personality disorder, mental disorder, or have gone through a certain traumatic event in life, such as sexual harassment or domestic violence, are more likely to have IBS.

There is no clear evidence what comes first - stress or IBS. However, doctors advise that strong stress management with the right behavioral therapy are some of the things patients can do to alleviate the symptoms and manage the condition.


Food sensitivities

The condition of your digestive system also plays a critical role as far as this condition is concerned. If your digestive system tends to rumble when you ingest fructose, soluble sugar (sorbitol), excessive alcohol, or carbonated drinks, then you might be prone to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Therefore, it is vital to avoid certain foods that may trigger IBS symptoms.

Common foods to avoid for someone suffering from irritable bowel syndrome include -

  • caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee
  • alcohol
  • spicy food
  • dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice cream
  • oily foods
  • vegetables like beans and cabbage

It is important to remember that not all foods have the same effects on everyone. It differs from person to person. It is often advised that a food diary be maintained to record daily food intake. This helps to figure out patterns, and ascertain the foods that trigger or aggravate your irritable bowel syndrome.


Poor eating habits

Poor eating habits like eating large meals, or eating while doing something stressful, such as working or driving, can double the chances of developing IBS. Yes, there is no direct evidence to prove that they cause IBS, but those people with a sensitive colon can end up with this condition if they don’t adopt proper eating habits. It is often suggested that a regular eating schedule be maintained for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.



Research has shown a direct link between the symptoms of IBS and some antibiotics, antidepressants, as well as drugs that are manufactured using sorbitol. It is important that you discuss medications being taken for an existing condition with your doctor to ensure that your bout of irritable bowel syndrome is not a side effect. 


Other digestive problems

Digestive problems such as traveler's diarrhea and food poisoning are probable culprits of IBS. Some scientists maintain the view that such digestive problems can trigger initial IBS symptoms.

Make sure that you do not ignore such digestive issues, thinking that it will heal in time. Most times it does not, and ultimately gets worse. In case your discomfort is persistent and lasts for more than a month, it is important that you visit a doctor. You may have irritable bowel syndrome. The earlier you receive treatment for IBS, the better your chances are of managing it.

When designing an effective IBS diet plan; you should keep in mind the foods to keep away from. For instance, farm animals usually eat foods that contain high levels of antibiotics. Too much of these foods can trigger more IBS symptoms. You can turn to fish rather than pork or other meats. Also, go for foods such as legumes and spinach. Above all, talk to your doctor if you think you might have irritable bowel syndrome. Your doctor can discuss your symptoms with you and run tests to find out what’s going on. Remember, IBS is a condition. With proper management, you can alleviate symptoms.

Since the cause of irritable bowel syndrome has not yet been identified, treatment is aimed at reducing symptoms rather than curing the disease. In most cases, dietary and lifestyle changes like including regular exercise, drinking plenty of water, increased intake of fruits and vegetable, proper sleep schedule and adopting stress relief mechanisms like meditation or yoga have been known to help control frequency and severity of IBS symptoms.

Yes, the disease may seem daunting and unbearable but with the right approach can be managed easily and effectively.