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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Triggers and Prevention

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5. Menstrual Triggers for IBS

Studies show that women with IBS tend to have worse symptoms during their periods. There's not a lot of information about preventing this type of trigger, but doctors may recommend certain strategies to ease pain and discomfort during your period.

Prevention Strategies:

  • Oral contraceptives. Some brand names are Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Lo/Ovral, and Alesse. These drugs can regularize periods. Side effects may include upset stomach, vomiting, stomach cramps or bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Work with your doctor to find a pill that works without causing side effects.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) drugs. These include drugs also used to treat depression, such as Sarafem, Paxil CR, and Zoloft. PMDD is a severe form of PMS. These drugs adjust levels of serotonin, a brain chemical thought to be out of balance during certain phases of a woman's cycle.

6. Other Triggers

  • Eating while working or driving
  • Eating too quickly
  • Chewing gum
  • Lack of exercise

Prevention Strategies:

  • Performing different activities while eating may cause you to swallow more air, eat more quickly, and feel bloated. Take time out from other activities while you enjoy your food.
  • Not enough exercise can also cause constipation. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Take a long walk to help your bowels and ease tension.

Also, be sure to talk to your doctor about all your treatment options for IBS with constipation and IBS with diarrhea.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on July 04, 2012
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