If you have been diagnosed with IBS, you likely have some questions about your condition. Nowadays, our go-to resource for information on any topic is the internet- but how do you know the information you’re reading is credible? The good news is, we have the answers to the most commonly asked questions about IBS straight from the experts in this field. Check out what our IBS dietitians have to say about IBS FAQs below.
Q: Are there different types of IBS?
A: There are 3 main types of IBS: IBS-C, IBS-D, IBS-M. Everyone’s IBS symptoms are different, but what type of IBS you have is determined by your predominant bowel habit. IBS-C is classified as constipation-prominent IBS while IBS-D is classified as diarrhea-prominent IBS. People with IBS-M, or IBS mixed-bowl, tend to swing back and forth between both extremes. Common symptoms of all types of IBS include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, mucus in the stool, excess gas, and reflux.
Q: Can IBS cause GERD? Can IBS cause heartburn?
A: IBS can cause GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. In fact, research shows that 63% of people with IBS also have GERD. People with IBS have more sensitive digestive systems, called visceral hypersensitivity, which is why symptoms can often be uncomfortable and painful.
Visceral hypersensitivity affects the entire digestive system, so people with IBS will feel the effects of acid reflux or heartburn more than the average person. Another factor that may produce higher rates of GERD in people with IBS is slowed gastrointestinal motility, causing food to sit in the stomach longer and produce reflux.
Q: Does heat affect IBS?
A: The short answer is yes, but it’s not very common. When it’s hot out, your body has a harder time maintaining a comfortable core temperature. While fighting to cool itself down through sweat, your body experiences physical stress. Physical and mental stress can exacerbate your IBS symptoms. If you suspect heat may be triggering IBS symptoms, try wearing cooling fabrics, planning breaks from direct sun, and staying hydrated.
Q: What triggers IBS?
A: There are three main triggers of IBS: food, stress and hormones. Unfortunately, hormones are out of your control, but you can improve your food choices and manage your stress to help alleviate IBS symptoms. We recommend avoiding common IBS trigger foods and building your arsenal of stress-management techniques for long term symptom management.
Q: Is kombucha bad for IBS?
A: Wondering if your kombucha might be worsening your IBS? Well, the jury is still out on this one. While kombucha has qualities that are beneficial to gut health, such as probiotics, it also has qualities that may worsen IBS symptoms. Kombucha is carbonated, which can cause excess gas and bloating by delivering carbon dioxide into your digestive system. Avoid kombuchas flavored with fruit or fruit juices as these foods may trigger an IBS Flare. Many kombucha flavors also contain common IBS triggers called FODMAPs. Just like other potential trigger foods, Kombucha will not affect everyone with IBS. Test your specific reactivity to kombucha to determine how it impacts your GI system.
How to Get Help for IBS
The bottom line is, IBS is a very complex condition that affects everyone differently. The best way to manage IBS is to do exactly what you’re doing right now- learn about it! Do your research, ask questions, and ensure your answers are coming from a credible source. Most importantly, ask for help when you need it. Our dietitians have helped hundreds of people find relief from IBS symptoms. Click here to learn more about our approach to IBS.
To read more about foods to avoid, foods to eat and how to make easy changes to your IBS diet to mitigate your symptoms, download our IBS Nutrition Guide.
Kaitlyn Willwerth is a Registered Dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition. Kaitlyn's work focuses on providing individualized health and lifestyle coaching and, most importantly, support. She is a Certified LEAP Therapist and has also completed the Monash University 'Low FODMAP Diet for IBS' online training course for health professionals.