IBS Pain and Cramping… Things That Help

Man on the toilet, grimacing in pain.

IBS pain is a special kind of agony.

One of the main symptoms of IBS is belly pain. IBS pain and cramping are caused by spasms in your colon (also called the large bowel or large intestine). These spasms can be triggered by a number of things, and can cause diarrhea OR constipation!

FIRST, have you seen your doctor?

Before you go any further, I want to ask you if you’ve had this pain checked out by a doctor. Abdominal pain is nothing to fool around with! It can be caused by anything from Crohn’s Disease to appendicitis to an intestinal blockage. Those last two (and others) can kill you! Those and other possibilities need immediate medical care! Don’t make me worry. Take care of yourself :).

So assuming you’ve already had a diagnosis of IBS…

What is all this cramping pain?

Your large and small intestines are lined with strong ring-like muscles. These muscles contract in such a way as to push “things” along. This squeezing and pushing is called peristalsis. Peristalsis has a certain rhythm to it. There are a bunch of things that can ruin the rhythm and that’s when the trouble starts.

For instance:

Constipation cramps…

Little girl holder her belly in IBS pain.

IBS pain strikes kids as well as adults. That makes it particularly heartbreaking :(.
© Can Stock Photo

One or more of the bits of bowel cramps up, clamping the tube shut, and not letting things through. This can be enormously painful (some people even faint)! Meanwhile the colon continues to draw water from the fecal material (poop/bm/bowel movement, stool/etc.). You can see where thisis going.

Next thing you know, you’ve got this dried out stone-like material inside that doesn’t want to go anywhere!

Diarrhea cramps…

The other way things can go, is that the large intestine can work too fast. This causes a sudden rush of watery fecal material, and keeps you running for the toilet.

Diarrhea cramps can also be extremely painful, and leave you feeling wiped out (notice I didn’t say drained, that would be a tacky pun ;).

What causes all this pain and cramping?

There a whole bunch of theories about what causes the abdominal pain and cramping of IBS. Some with more proof than others. Here are some of the main ones:

  • Food intolerance – Sometimes undiagnosed food sensitivities can cause or trigger IBS symptoms.
  • Celiac sprue disease– A special form of gluten intolerance.
  • Visceral hypersensitivity – Bowels that are very sensitive to stimulation, especially by spicy foods.
  • STRESS! –While stress doesn’t CAUSE IBS, stress can trigger IBS.
  • Trapped or excessive gas– Some recent studies point toward gas buildup triggering cramps for people with sensitive bowels.
  • Bacterial infectionA recent study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center showed long term IBS relief using antibiotics.
  • Hormonal changes– Such as during the menstrual cycle.

Speaking of the menstrual cycle, some people believe that menstrual cramps can set off IBS cramps. Since castor oil can lead to bowel spasms, and bowel spasms can sometimes start labor (uterine cramps), it seems to make perfect sense. I admit I haven’t chased down any proof on this one yet.

Some things you can do to help IBS pain and cramping:

Business man holding his belly in pain from IBS.

IBS symptoms don’t care about your schedule..
© Can Stock Photo

Well, there are some medications your doctor can prescribe. My gastroenterologist prescribed a kind of bowel muscle relaxant (I don’t remember the name). It didn’t work for me for some reason, but something like this might work for you. Check it out!

There are also anti-diarrhea medicines like Imodium, that you can buy “over the counter.” But you can’t (or shouldn’t) use them for long periods without talking to your doctor.

If you can find and avoid your IBS trigger foods, that can help a lot! A Nutritionist and and an elimination diet can really help find any foods that trigger your IBS symptoms. Especially avoid foods that give you a lot of gas.

Fiber! Fiber! Fiber! Almost nobody gets enough, and this can REALLY help both diarrhea OR constipation. The best kind for IBS is called soluble fiber.

Peppermint oil has a reputation for soothing the lining of the bowels. I tried this and it did help, but I also have GERD (gastro esophogeal reflux disease) which peppermint is NOT good for. So I don’t use it.

If you decide to try peppermint oil, make sure you get the “enteric coated” kind that dissolves in your intestines not in your stomach!

Some things I do that help me with my IBS pain:

First of all I avoid dairy and wheat, because these trigger IBS symptoms in me. I also don’t eat too much fruit sugar (fructose) all by itself or all at once, because that makes me REALLY sick too.

Woman with a hot water bottle to help her IBS pain and cramping.

Sometimes heat can help with the belly pain..
© Can Stock Photo

I use a microwaveable heating pad filled with feed corn (my wife makes them) and keep that sucker hot and right where the cramping is. That’s a huge help!

Sometimes, if it’s really bad I take Advil (ibuprofen) which helps a bit with the pain. I don’t do that often though. I don’t like taking a lot of pills. Check with your doctor to make sure this is safe for you.

Also, my IBS cramps are usually in the same place, and I find that using fingers to gently massage there helps me. Kind of like working out a cramp in a shoulder.

Meditation! This has really helped me recognize the kinds of thinking that sets off an attack of IBS. Meditation and exercise have helped me cut way down on stress. Less stress equals less IBS for me and probably for you!

So what about you? Do you have tips for IBS pain?

If so please help others by putting your tips in the comment section.




  1. Reply

    Does anyone experience cramps in the top of there back or chest?

  2. Reply

    Omg! After reading every ones comments, i can so relate to all of it. The cramping I have is so severe it feels like labor pains. It is debilitating and I end up very weak afterwards. I have not been able to find out my trigger foods yet because i can eat a cracker and cramping starts. When i have one of these episodes its like my body is cleaning out like a bowel prep for a colonoscopy. Btw had one of those and an egd done and everything was normal. Bentyl helps sometimes, levsin does not. Idk. Its almost like i dont want to eat because im afraid I’ll have an episode. At one point I lost 15 pounds.

  3. Reply

    I have suffered from IBS for over 50 years, going through periods of prolonged pain and diarrhea which can last for weeks, I also suffer from leg and back ache with these attacks. I wish I could offer some advice to relieve symptoms but with me nothing works, ibs medication usually makes it worse, learning to live with this is all I could do but it is very limiting, I cannot make any foward planning as I do not know what I will be like that day.

    • Reply

      It may be the nerves in your back causing the bowel issues if you have pain around lumbar and tail bone area

  4. Reply

    Have had IBS and acid reflux for years since 2003 I had a colonoscopy 4 years ago they said all I had was inner and outer hemmroids and mild colitis nothing else but I have been dealing with this for about 3 weeks anyone have a good idea about diet and how to relieve the cramping and the constipation? It is really getting hard I hope some one has some ideas Thank you

    • Reply

      Hello, nothing really has helped me with the severe cramps. Sometimes a heating pad helps or ibuprofen, it really depends on how bad my IBS is. It’s sad to say, but sometimes nothing really helps and I just have to let it take its course. Drinking water has helped a lot with my constipation though. I heard drinking half your weight in ounces is the ideal amount (120lbs/2=60oz daily you should aim for). This helped a ton! With drinking more water you should hopefully notice that you aren’t as constipated as you once were. I hope this helps.

      • Reply

        Bentyl….I’ve been taking this for years for the cramps. Its my wonder drug. Check with your doctor.

  5. Reply

    Hi. I have been having very severe lower abdominal cramps from 2 days. I wake up in the middle of the night and have to visit the loo to pass stools and only after that it stops. The last time i had this kind of pain i had an early miscarriage after 2-3 weeks. I am worried this time it may be the same.

  6. Reply

    Hi can someone tell me if this is normal for IBS. I suffer from IBS now and again. And I have problems with acid reflux etc. I ate a large breakfast and then went back to bed because I wasn’t feeling well. I woke up about two hours later with awful cramp or stitch like pain in my right side/stomach all the ways up to under my breast it kind of feels like it’s wrapping around my mid and lower back and a little to the left side. Has anyone experience anything like this?

    • Reply

      You may want to be checked for gallbladder disease.

    • Reply

      Never been diagnosed with IBS but, I’m having this exact pain. Did you ever find out what’s causing it? My dr diagnosed with pleurisy. But, the pain wakes me up every night, I have a hard time breathing, and it’s very severe.

  7. Reply

    I have had I.b.s. For ten years. Having a bad bout now . Pain, cramping in my intestines. Wind, seems like a fight going on inside . I feel that non sufferers think it is just a bit of loose stool and a bit of pain. Right now this is really making me feel low. Had all the tests but the doctors still say I.b.s. Need help and encouragement.

    • Reply

      Prior to my diagnosis I felt like everyone thought I was being dramatic. Took a few years before I was properly diagnosed which really gave me a sense of relief. I spent two years confined to the restroom which altered my normal life. Once diagnosed I was able to at least have a target to hit. Through trail and error I’ve learned which foods triggers my symptoms in which I stay away from. I take probiotic and fiber supplements DAILY! Soothing music daily (stress triggers symptoms) The cramping was the absolute worse for me, my doctor prescribed a medication to help with the cramps! There is life with IBS; you can enjoy life with such a terrible diagnosis. If I can do it, so can you! Hope this helps

  8. Reply

    Hi…was going through this blog and found many useful tips. I have been diagnosed with IBS in 2014. I suffer mainly from lower abdominal pain and lots of gas. Cramps last for 3 days at times. Also abdominal cramping after a bowel movement which lasts for about and hour or so.
    I have some very good weeks and some bad weeks. My stools are mostly fine…though at times soft. Just wondering if anyone have the same problem.

    • Reply

      This sounds like me. But not lower abdominal.. Mine is mostly upper and very tight. I used heat and sometimes advil. Just so sick of it. I can’t eat what I like anymore.

    • Reply

      Hey I do the same thing too and they keep telling me there’s nothing wrong and I know there is!
      Did your problem resolved on its own or are you still having it?
      I’m thinking with all this going on in prescriptions of laxatives that I’ve become laxative dependent and I don’t know how to get away from it it’s keeping me awake at night now from all the pain!
      What have you done to help get through this?

  9. Reply

    This was so so helpful!! When I get these episodes I think I am ready for the hospital and a and do not understand what is happening.
    Now it all makes sense and I know where to begin to avoid these episodes. Thank for making so easy to understand and taking time to write this.

  10. Reply

    I remember my 1st bout with IBS well. I was 19/20 yrs old. I am now 62. I had an awful sharp pain in my intestinal area as I was walking back to my room where I was staying & thought I would never get there. I did, I ran to the bathroom, released gas & had a bm. The pain was gone & I felt better, but had no idea what happened or what caused it. It would happen periodically over the next 5-7 years. The pain I always got was excruciating, but only lasted seconds. I would get 1-3 of them & it would quit. The pain would move, sometimes on the left side, other times the right side, middle etc.. In my mid 20’s I finally went to a doctor. After a few tests, and some questions, she told me I had a “spastic colon”.(What they call IBS now.)That food was likely the cause. That the food would likely be something I had become sensitive to or was hard for my intestines to digest & move & it maybe getting “stuck” in a small pocket of sorts & this is setting off the spasm. The best thing she said I could do was to watch what I ate & if I had a spasm, eliminate that food. But, she said, to start with they recommend avoiding or eliminating: CAFFEINE(coffee, chocolate, soda etc)and also corn and beans. Anything that has that thin membrane outer shell, and doesn’t digest well to begin with and causes gas.
    Well, let me tell you after 42 yrs of living with this & I have IBS-D(mostly)I have learned & I have come to my own conclusions. Caffeine will cause a spasm, but not after 1 cup of coffee or 3 or a soda or chocolate. I have discovered it kind of builds up in my system over a period of time,(best way I can describe it)and after my system has had enough, 1 cup of coffee one morning, I feel the gas & cramps coming on & wham. Run to the restroom cause its gas & diarrhea that I can barely control. Corn & beans are also culprits. Not immediately after eating them, but soon enough, and it depends on the amount of them I eat & how often. If I rarely eat them & I have a tablespoonful of BBQ’d beans or half a corn on the cob at he family bbq, its fine. Generally I stir clear. Popcorn. Not good. Those thin pieces of kernel skin kill me. Cucumber seeds also do not digest well, even tomato seeds can cause a flare up on occasion. The worst culprit for me is sesame seeds. Yes the ones on the buns. Big no no. I am in pain until they have all passed. So I had it under decent control for a long time. As I got older of course some things changed. As you’re body will, so will the IBS I guess. For a long time now no matter what time my first meal of the day is, within 30 mins max, I have to be near the bathroom, cramps or no the diarrhea is coming. I have had horrible constipation & pain as well, that has left me shaken, drained & soaked in sweat.
    Now I have gotten a new symptom, I have not had before, that some here have described. In the last few months I get a horrible pain that starts in my right side, and spreads across my whole belly to the left side and is all the way up to my rib cage, is tender to the touch and so painful it has left me curled up in the fetal position, painful to walk upright, and lasts all day into the night. Next day its mostly gone, but still a bit achy and tender. My gallbladder was removed 13yrs ago, and had I been vomiting & running a fever I would have wondered if my appendix was about to go! Not sure why I’m getting this now, but it’s extremely painful and any plans I may have had for the day are cancelled. Hope I have helped someone & given food for thought. Any suggestions appreciated. Until then, I’m back to hunt & peck!

    • Reply

      Probiotics such as provide capsules and lactobacillus really help soothe the stomach on a daily basis and keep your digestion on point as well. Try speaking with your doctor and setting up a probiotic course for month or so. It really helped me.

    • Reply

      You nailed it. I have exactly the same thing. Thinking it was IBS. Thank you for sharing

    • Reply

      This is what I’m experiencing at the moment. I probably need to see my doctor to be diagnosed properly. I’m 27 and experiencing pain starting from the right quadrant then radiating to the rib cage. Can’t walk straight, can’t pass gas even. I need to lie down in fetal position for a long time to relieve the symptoms.

      • Reply

        Have your doctor check you for diverticulitis. My dad has that – can’t / shouldn’t eat beans, corns, seeds, nuts – anything that doesn’t digest fully.

    • Reply

      That has helped…

  11. Reply

    Hi I have without being diagnosed decided I have IBS due to many similar symptoms I have seen on here and on the web, my doctor has prescribed me peppermint oil tablets which helped a lot but I’ve had 2 bouts this month.the first for a while and what I can’t understand is why does my stomach hurt when I drink water from a tap or a bottle, my symptoms are severe stomach pains, large bouts of dioreeha, which makes me feel empty, stomach bloating, I don’t drink alcohol, I train every other day, I’m 46, eat healthier now than I ever have, I am 6 foot 2 and weigh 18 stone, but I am the fittest I’ve ever been? The latest attack was 2 days ago triggered by a pack of mixed nuts. I can’t eat for 2 days when it occurs but because I can’t sleep I have missed work and I honestly can’t work with symptoms like this.

    • Reply

      Are there chemicals in the water? Is the water very cold? I can no longer tolerate fluorided or very cold water. I get cramps if I drink very cold liquids. At a certain point when you get older you have less digestive enzymes that help you digest foods. You can buy these on Amazon. Look through what people say in the comments section on Amazon and you might find someone has the same problem as you. You might want to check out Dr. Mercola’s website and look for items like your symptoms. Medical doctors can only cure the symptoms they learned in school. There is a whole holistic, integrated and functional medicine starting to sweep the world and become more mainstream but traditional medicine doesn’t have all the answers.

    • Reply

      Buscapan for ibs , I just needed up in hospital ,you can buy this at a chemist

      • Reply

        Only in Europe. Called hyoscyamine sulfate in US. Careful with it. As with IBS folks – helps some dosn’t do a bit of good for others. This is a nasty condition to live with.

    • Reply

      I don’t have a lot of pain. Just upper ab tightness. When I eat the wrong things; which is everything. I feel like pinches and tightness. No diarrhea , mild constipation. Sometimes it goes away for a day or two. Then when I eat mexican or spicy food it comes back. I, too have trouble drinking water. I tried Sprite and I got even more gas and bloating. Heating pad works great.

  12. Reply

    Great post! Have nice day ! :) wqjsr

  13. Reply

    Definitely avoid gluten, cow dairy, refined sugar and too much coffee. Have suffered for yrs then saw a naturopathic doc who changed my diet. Also low glycemic fruits and veggies and very little red meat.

    Stress can certainly stir up lots of physical pain I am lucky to have a few solutions when I work at it. I’d rather be part of my solution than part of my problem.

  14. Reply

    I’ve had IBS for over 40 years. I remember sitting at the dinner table as a child and rarely ever able to finish a meal before running off to the potty with vicious cramps and Diarrhea. Sometimes I would be there for hours. As I write, I’m laying in bed with wicked gas cramps in my lower right side–very likely from the few roasted Brussels sprouts I ate last evening. Over the years, I’ve seen a handful of doctors and tried everything under the sun to lead as normal a life as possible. In hopes that it might help someone else, here are a few things I’ve learned.

    Get diagnosed. Rule out every other tummy issue with a colonoscopy, endoscopy, etc., stool test (bacteria imbalances, parasites, etc.). Once those are clear, get your mind right. It’s not in your head. Doctors aren’t magicians. Science has no idea why some people suffer so much with something that’s still a complete mystery. As I like to tell people, it doesn’t matter any more why my stomach reacts so violently one day to food and not the next. It just does. I don’t need to know WHY, I need to know how I can cope.

    For the most part, I avoid dairy, gluten and soy. I avoid most foods in a package–especially sugar! — (if you can’t grow it, pick it, kill/catch it), it’s probably packed full of stuff that my body doesn’t know what to do with. That leaves chicken, fish, bison, fruits and some veggies. However, I’m careful with beans, lentils and veggies that cause gas. Doesn’t leave much, but I’ll take less pain in trade. I eat at home before going to restaurants with friends–and then nibble on a salad while visiting at the restaurant. Again, it beats the alternative of fear and panic attacks when you eat the wrong foods and end up sweating your gills out in a foreign bathroom. Been there, done that a million times. My best intentions don’t always work, but I’ve been able to reduce the attacks by at least 60-70%.

    For the other 30%, I’ve recently discovered hyosciamine. It’s a miracle drug for me (taken 30 minutes before a meal that might not be as safe as my own cooking). It dries me out like crazy, but seems to work in less than ten minutes when I’m mid melt down. On the rare occasion that I’m in full melt down (7+bouts of diarrhea within an hour or two), I have a supply of Klonapin that will knock me out. I use these very carefully as I never want to become dependent. Just me.

    For now, I realize there isn’t a magic pill or “cure” for IBS. Walking every day, eating well, meditating, perhaps taking in some good gut bacteria (I drink a pea protein Vega shake each morning with half a banana — which contains acidophilus), and learning to stop apologizing or feeling guilty about slowing down or aborting plans, etc. have made living with this wacky issue much more bare-able.

    I do believe someday, they will discover a genetic link. My hunch is the body mistakenly overreacts to food as if it’s a foreign invader…until the, I’ll keep doing what I can to expect the unexpected and go easy on myself. Wishing you all the best of luck.

    • Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing. I have recently started to fill gramps on my lower right hand side that travels across to my lower front and pack left hand side. Soon after a great urge for the toilet. Its horrible and at time extremely painful. I have commenced visits to my doc for further indepth tests to get to the bottom of it. So far no bacteria or appendicitis.. Just had stool test done, results I get on Friday and if there is still no discovery I’ll have a the cameras put in to see if they can find what causing this pain.

      Thank you for sharing your story, it helps to know that I’m not alone with this problem.

    • Reply

      OMG, you’ve nailed my situation and I’ve come to the same conclusion… Once I finally started taking about it with family (stopped caring if it was embarrassing) we discovered that my father and my half siblings ALL have ibs symptoms in varying degrees! (and none of us has been able to correlate the problem to a specific food/spice)

      My last bit occurred after a colonoscopy and left me unable to eat for 5 days during which the cramping was the worst I’ve ever experienced – so bad I was vomiting, drenched in sweat, weak and faint.

      I don’t normally have frequent problems but when I do have them they are severe… And why oh why does it seem to predominantly happen at 2 in the morning!?

  15. Reply

    Hello – I found the best thing for relieving the severe gas pain is passion flower tea. You need to get it bulk from a health food store and make it strong. I will make you a little sleepy or loopy and it is best not to drive after drinking it. However, it will take away my pain in 30 mins while if I do nothing it can take 3 hours. It is my go-to remedy. I’ve tried many other things and though I control my symptoms with diet–I still get an occasional bout of severe gas…and this works!

    I have had severe IBS since I moved back to the US after 18 years overseas. I moved from France in 2004 after having my first colonoscopy, performed about a month before. I eliminated gluten starting in 2005 and after a lot of personal experience I concluded it takes away most of my symptoms which are mostly gas– and diarrhea that I get if I eat wheat. I also avoid beans, chickpeas, and I don’t drink alcohol. I have a terrible sweet tooth so that’s another story. I felt good on a high protein diet but ended up with kidney stones so I’m back to my evil ways of eating too many sweets.

    • Reply

      Your post made me cry so much, I am suffering really badly trying to figure out what my issue is. It is affecting my everyday life. My fear and anxiety is unmanagable at the moment because I don’t know how to gain control over my episodes and it is occurring more frequently and more painfully.

      I hope to have answers soon. But I totally relate. This has affected my personality. I was someone who loved eating and dining and wine and was/am very sociable. I have a great job that I am excelling at and I get to travel the world for it. Lately I have become so introverted, I avoid going out out of fear of having an episode where the bathroom isn’t near or the food isn’t okay. I have literally asked people to leave my house twice this week because I could not be sociable and had too much pain and diahorrea. My kid gets to school late every other morning because mornings are the worst for me. I have been late for meetings. I have to cancel travel plans for work. I have to avoid early meetings. The fear of sitting in quiet boardrooms and my stomach acting up is affecting my job.

      My partner doesn’t deserve the miserable, unsociable, high maintenance person I have become.

      My kid deserves a mom who doesn’t need to rush to the bathroom in a mall and spend 30 mins sitting there on the toilet floor enduring her mom have a diahorrea outbreak. Cancel ice-cream plans and rush back home to top up on meds.

      I feel depressed and I hope I get answers soon.

      Sorry for the long rant, this post hit home so hard.

  16. Reply

    Hi Shawn.

    Just thought id get your input on a problem I’ve been having. Its nowhere near as severe or prolonged as the conditions of everyone I’ve been reading on here and i hope everyone finds a way to ease their pain and discomforts.
    I drink quite a lot of alcohol and always have which i realise is stupid and dangerous but i do it anyway. Recently I’ve been waking up in the morning (after a big night drinking) and sometimes (maybe one in five) i have what feels like really sore and kind of crampy upper abdominal muscles… It feels like i have done a thousand sit ups in my sleep and my muscles are sore from that. When its very severe i can barely move and other times it milder. It only seems to last maybe 15 mins to half an hr but this is hard to measure because I’m kind of in and out of sleep and groggy anyway. Apart from this my stomach, abdomen, muscles seem to always be fine. Im 32 and have been drinking quite heavily since 17… i do have alcohol free days and breaks for a few months here and there but usually get very drunk 3-4 times a week. I only drink beer and cider these days. I often skip the evening meal, drink on an empty stomach and also eat lots very late at night. All over the place i know…. Im a strange creature.
    Any light you could shed would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

    • Reply

      Please consider two things: 1. See a counselor that is trained to discuss the implications of long-term alcohol abuse with you. See a doctor for a complete physical because from what you say, you have a 15 year history of severe alcohol abuse and your symptoms as described indicate that you may have some serious issues related to alcohol – there could be an ulcer, fatty liver, cirrhosis of the liver, issues with your pancreas, etc. Given your history, you cannot quit cold turkey without there being severe repercussions (like alcohol withdrawal, including DTs).

    • Reply

      i was where you are but i got saved and God deleviered me of all that he is your answer i be clean 24 yrs

    • Reply

      I realize this is an old post but I hope you got some help with the drinking. I’m a retired drug and alcohol counselor ( 24 years) and that is a long time of heavy use, hopefully you got to the doctor. Too.

  17. Reply

    I have had ibs for years…just had a bout, as I call it, only 2 1/2 months after the last one…mine are usually about 4 times a year and last anywhere from 7 to 15 days, this last one was 15 days, over Christmas holidays and Very painful, labour like pains for sure and ALL in the back!. Mine starts with a sort of EMPTY feeling in my belly, then sharp pain below my left lung…it moves along from there during these days and ends up on the right side of my body just around my right hip! I try to drink herbal teas with laxatives in them..because i am always constipated at this time…when it is gone, it ‘s GONE and I am back to my normal bouncy self…doctors just role their eyes at me when I mention it, so I don’t anymore, very discouraging….I have been off Gluten products for about 3 years and been much better, think my next step is to see if there are any other foods that are not good for me, Dairy would be hard for me to stop but I will if it shows that that is hurting me…thanks for any feedback

    • Reply

      I had severe IBS for a number of years and I have managed to cure myself completely. I would wake in the night with severe abdominal pain and need to empty my bowels completely leaving me in a feverish sweat and the pain was excruciating. Doctors just prescribed more and more drugs to slow down the gut movements until I was taking ridiculous amounts of medication. I wanted to understand the cause and it became clear after extensive reading and research that it was all related to the gut bacteria that lives inside all of us. I had my gut bacteria analysed privately by a laboratory and the results showed the wrong balance of bacteria. There was an overgrowth of bacteria which was feeding off sugars or carbohydrates. I went onto a Paleo diet cutting out all carbohydrates and re-balanced my gut bacteria with foods such as kefir and fermented vegetables. All my symptoms have now gone and I feel unbelievably better with so much more energy. Don’t listen to Doctors or dieticians … they are unaware of the real causes of IBS. You have to cure yourself. Good luck … be very strict with your diet.

  18. Reply

    I have ibs about 15.years. I have been taking g guard from Walgreen and align and it helps but I still.have.pain st night.

    • Reply

      What’s g guard ? Do you mean IB guard?

  19. Reply

    Hi their

    I feel like much pain in my stomach.. this is unexpected paining in lower part of stomach(Tommy) today it’s painning a lot. After or within15 min, it’s paining like anything for this pain, I should go for latrine n even toilet after doing both less pain.. and again after 15 min same problem. I’m not getting what happen food or water problem can u pls suggest what should I do further..

  20. Reply

    HI i suffer from ibs/acid reflux where lately have had a sore throat which feels like am on fire and alsi felt very sick. i saw doctor but he blamed my sinus issues as theyve been unwilling to cure that properly too. I find i love my food but have to force it down then the indegestion is usually released. I avoid family meals as dont feel like i enjoy food as much. Had an endoscpy that found some traces acid reflux and have tried peptac, and others that dont do much. I get bloated and havent eaten much feel pretty depressed as its effectg me daily. I am on benefits looking for work so hope my lifestyle could change for the better. I do gey agonising stomach pains durg ibs and feel like shit all day even with immodium etc. glad am not alone but the sore throat is a mystery as gerd hasnt been diagnosed.

    • Reply

      Do you have high levels of stress.or anxiety episode’s?

      I have and i have all your abpve mentioned problems.

      Stress can cause so much of this.

      I just havent found a way to fix it yet .

  21. Reply

    I have been suffering with what I have decided is IBS. No diagnosis because my doc just shrugs it off. Mine started in my late teens. I am now 36. I haven’t found what causes mine yet but what I HAVE found out one reason for me is, if I skip breakfast & then eat lunch later on, about 30 minutes later I will start getting cramps that feel like bad gas, in my lower stomach. It starts to progress until the cramps are so bad I am hunched over in pain, I get light headed & even vomit from the pain being so severe while sitting on the toilet. I also start sweating so bad & feel on fire. I’ve actually been known to desperately rip my clothing off, that’s how hot & sweaty I get. I have a bowel movement which is usually normal & then suddenly it’s diarrhea & it hurts incredibly bad until I clear out my bowels & it starts to subside. When it’s over I literally feel like I have given birth as far as the labor pains go. I feel completely wiped out & exhausted yet SO relieved. Been going on MANY years & I never know when it will hit. I have never experienced the amount of pain in my life & I have given birth twice without medications for pain. The pain is only in my lower stomach area from left side to right side across my belly button level. Not my pelvis & not my upper stomach below my ribs…it’s down low like I said, belly button level. Does it even sound like IBS?

    • Reply

      Hello.. I have the same exact problems to the T. It’s worst thing ever!. Yes it’s IBS. Been dealing with it for yes. Seems to get worse the older I get. I learned this past yr that I get bad attacks right before my menstrual comes. Not every month , but caught on. Been hospitalozed 5 different times in the last 3 yrs because of it. Each time was for 4 to 5 days. Via ambulance at that. Hope no one else has it that extreme. Probiotics and several different medications even antidepressants are good to Try. I’ve been there and done that myself. Some do actually help.

  22. Reply

    I’ve researched the hell out of my symptoms and still coming up with zero clear causes. I believe I have IBS, certainly suffer from extreme bloating and discomfort at least 4/7 days of the week. It’s a heavy, congested feel that makes me just miserable. Around 5am-7am I am woken up with a dull ache, similar to when you run and get a stitch, which is always located in the same place, somewhere on the right hand side below my rib cage. The pain is sufficient to wake me up and then dissipates when I get up and become active. Usually it fades by breakfast but on a bad day can remain all day. Currently I’ve had it for almost a week on the go and it’s wrecking my sleep and as a result of that my anxiety and frame of mind during the day. This pattern has repeated itself for well over three years now, with the first signs being classic IBS in their nature…

    I’ve tried eliminating foods, doesn’t seem to follow a pattern, but I do feel it’s worse when I am stressed (rarely happens when I am on vacation or relaxed/exercising regularly). I do think that alcohol affects it. Usually a drink makes me feel better (relaxes the stomach) but after a few drinks on a weekend I usually find it comes on.

    What is so strange is that the pain is so specific between the hours of 5am – 7am (large intestine?) and that is always the same location.

    Don’t know about anyone else but it just makes you feel tired, miserable and quite depressed.

    If anyone has some insight or tips it would be great. Blood tests all negative (apart from elevated white blood cells which then went back to normal – slight inflammation?) Ultra sound for gall bladder clear as well. The next step is more invasive testing which I am anxious about.


    • Reply

      Your diet needs to be soo strict, I even had to cut green tea, very bland foods for now, No broccoli, cabage, cauliflower, onions, dairy or gluten products

      • Reply

        In the normal rhythm or cycle of the day, our colon is most active between 5am and 7am resulting in bowel movement at the end of that time. In most people it’s not painful though. And this natural rhythm can be disturbed by lifestyle and work (shift) impacts.

        I have IBS too but it has been many years since I had a flare up the likes of which I am currently experiencing – right sided pain that three days ago was cramps and now is just tenderness to the touch but still wearing on the psyche. I have achieved good control through diet – specifically a low FODMAP diet. Had to give up quite a few foods but mostly they were things I ate cos you were supposed to, not cos I enjoyed them. So no legumes at all – including all forms of soy, no wheat, oats or barley, no apples, pears, peaches or as I have now discovered, black plums (can eat red and yellow), no onions 😭 ( only thing I miss), and limited dairy (only fermented such as yoghurt and then only a little) and really it should be no dairy. I make kimchi, kombucha and kefir which all help a lot and I supplement including a probiotic. I also do better if I add in a little raw slaw (I eat a dry mix of red cabbage and carrot) with a little home made apple cider vinegar and spice dressing daily, and have 1 or 2 meat free days a week. It’s so easy to slip out of the pattern of what works and the price is high.

        The worse part is that IBS can get worse as you get older as your system becomes more sensitive or less able to cope with all kinds of stuff – this often means that more foods become triggers and also more environmental things do too. In my 50’s now I have lived with this since I was a child and I can vouch for it been a continual journey of change in tolerances. Have fallen off the wagon unknowingly because of some stewed plum which was black instead of red or yellow and it is pure accident that in the past I have always bought the red or yellow plums.

        Oh, and whilst I am here, I take charcoal to mop up the mess if I do eat something that I think is not sitting well, before it takes hold or to shorten the war within – works well – activated charcoal powder stirred into water and drink it down, I add fresh lemon juice for taste, you’re not supposed to enjoy it, but it helps – also an old cure for diarrhoea.

  23. Reply

    Hello, Nice to speak to you.
    I have the symptoms but am not diagnosed yet. For the moment Doc is asking me to do a gluten and diary free diet for elimination process. Later they will send a camera in the stomach for a check. Now I would like to ask you, guys, if some of you experience heart burns with IBS… (My symptoms are: going often to the toilet, dhiarrhoea, feeling tired all the time, and heart burns)
    Thanks for sharing.
    Warm regards

  24. Reply

    Re:”My gastroenterologist prescribed a kind of bowel muscle relaxant (I don’t remember the name)”

    It’s Called: Hyoscyamine

    • Reply

      I tried that too, but passion flower tea (made strong from bulk tea you purchase at the health food store) is more effective. It will make you sleepy though.

  25. Reply

    Hi Shawn. My name is Darcie and I was diagnosed with IBS when I was a teenager. I’ve never had pain like I have had in the past week. How long can an IBS attack last?

  26. Reply

    Hi Shawn,

    I was diagnosed with ibs about 3 years ago and I’m still trying to find the balance I need to not suffer from symptoms daily…in fact I’m up right now at 3:23 am with really bad pain in my stomach because of having ibs symptoms…I just came across this. Thank you SO much for writing it. Emotionally I was struggling with the pain I’m experiencing right now in my stomach, plus a severe feeling of nausea to go with it. I read this because I was looking for more advice about how to deal with this. Thank you for bringing me back up with some humour over what can be a really horrible condition. I believe that humour is an actual treatment sometimes so I think you have given me the help I needed just by you writing about ibs in a funny but extremely articulate and informative way. Thanks Shawn, Bless you for your sharing in all the right ways..

  27. Reply

    I’m not sure if I have IBS as I haven’t yet seen the doctor, I have had my gall bladder removed over 20 yrs ago but in the last couple of years I am randomly getting an “attack” that is very similar to gall stone pain, it comes on very suddenly, I get very hot almost to the point of fainting, excruciating pain in my lower abdomen and then I get cold flashes… All over in a matter of minutes, always after drinking one or two pints of cider????!!
    Can anyone advise please???

  28. Reply

    I’ve been suffering for years and the cramps can stop me in my tracks. Before I knew it was IBS my husband has rushed me to the hospital during shopping trips because the pain was so overwhelming for me. Sadly the docs just told me it was IBS suggested I eat more fiber. However despite my best efforts I still find issues running into extreme pain days and being constipated. Sadly my oldest teen son has similar issue. It one thing for me to keep track of my movements… getting that info from a child is even harder and I feel really sorry when I know the extreme pain he goes through when constipated.

    Wonderful ideas here. I’m doing more research so I can find more ways to avoid the bad days. One trick I’ve learned for my son is when is stops eating. A key sign that he most likely hasn’t gone to the bathroom lately.

  29. Reply

    I was diagnosed with IBS 8 months ago, and I think I found my triggers dairy and gluten, which I avoid. However recently when I eat my food the stomach pains and bloating have started again. Could it be other foods?? Also my symptoms have changed I am experiencing severe fluttering in my top, left side of my stomach, it’s starting to drive me crazy. IBS is so cruel, I wish there was something that can cure it……

  30. Reply

    I have most of my bathroom problems in the morning, starts as soon as I get up, and usually a few rounds. the pain is always on my lower right side, and can go into my back sometimes.most days, getting up from sitting, then walking around, I can feel the pressure on the right side, and again shoots into the back sometimes. lately heart burn, upset tummy, feeling the need to belch . had colon tests and scope into my tummy. say prob ibs I find most times, its very foul smelly, and dark and greasy looking stool. sorry, gross. I do usually have a few glasses of red wine each day, my de stresser after long day, and can over do it with the wine on weekends. but is it normal for all the pain to be on right side?

    • Reply

      I think the pain can be anywhere the colon is, but the dark stool has me a bit worried. Sometimes that can indicate blood in the stool. Between that and the pain, I hope you’re checking in with your doctor!

    • Reply

      I’m having same thing. Foul smelling greasy stool. I’m also having great discomfort in my right shoulder blade. I’m fatigued. Doctor did stool sample test and I’m currently waiting on the results. Did you ever find out what’s going on with you?

  31. Reply

    Forgive me if this has been mentioned in the comments, but the chiropractor has helped me TREMENDOUSLY with IBS. I once went 3 times a week for a short period, and it got to where I could eat pretty much anything! Unfortunately it has flared up again, but that’s after over 4 months of no flare-ups….

  32. Reply

    Hi everyone,

    it’s been great reading everyone’s post. Over the years I have struggled with cream cheese and sour cream. So I avoid these foods, in not knowing why?

    Lately I have been having bad stomach cramping and pain in my lower back, the doctor doesn’t no what is wrong with me. He is now thinking ibs now.

    I’m sitting here with a heat pack on my stomach to sooth the pain. Now my brain is running wild in what I ate today. The posting here have open my eyes and answered some of my questions.

    I am now going to do some more research into my diet and yes coffee and milk drive my stomach mad, I’m back to water and tea, just need a good cereal now for breakfast.

  33. Reply

    HI all I have been suffering from IBS for 15 yrs – I am currently 41 yrs old and wish to share what helps me with dealing with my attacks and how i get to relieve myself from cramping and get myself back to normality as quick as possible ..I eat natural yogurt and mix it with enriched minerals and vitamins from flak seed and also eat instant oats from time to time aswell…Drinking lots of water in the day and eating less than normal helps me and no caffeine in the evening sorta helps too
    What helps me with sleeping cramps is to use a blanket as a pillow and try and sleep upright when it gets bad – Sleeping upright seems to work with my symptoms and stops the wind pressure on my chest and shoulders ( gravity at work )
    Try also to counter balance bad foods with good . Most of my attacks are because stupid me got to confident that i havn’t received a attack in a while, that I can eat / drink what i want :)

  34. Reply

    I have a stabbing pain under my left rib that happens most often while driving long distances and occasionally when I exercise I will get a painful muscle spasm in the same area. The pain on the upper left quadrant is happening more often than not. My doctor had an ultrasound done of my of my kidney and spleen. My kidney was grossly unremarkable (whatever that means) and there is peristalsing bowel present. I was told the test was negative and sent on my way but the pain still flares up on and off. Should I be concerned and ask for further tests or any advice would be preciated!

    • Reply

      Hello Marilyn, This doesn’t sound like an IBS problem to me, but I wanted to reply to your question. I’m always in favor of a second opinion. Pain usually means SOMETHING.

  35. Reply

    I’ve been suffering with IBS for many years. But as i get older its lightened up a lot. The thing i did recently that really helped is i eat 1 Activia yogurt every day. I also eat bran cereal often. And if i have an episode, i take a Gas-X pill and that lightens the pain that the gas is causing.

  36. Reply

    I get really bad pains below my belly button. I’m 16 and feel really tired since I was in hospital with the initial pain. I’m worried about the pain sometimes and want to know if the pains will ever ease. Thanks

  37. Reply

    Yoga helps with destressing. You can also do Pranayam at home before 6.30 am –

    Close Right nostril with your thumb, breathe in for a count of 5, close off Left nostril with your ring finger (now both nostrils are closed)

    Hold your breath for a count of 20, then still holding the Left nostril closed, lifting your thumb off, release your breath through the Right nostril for a count of 10. Repeat this cycle.

    This exercise must always be done in 1:4:2 proportion i.e. Breathe in (5secs), hold your breath (5×4) and release your breath (5×2).

    Its made a difference to me. Hope it helps others :-)

  38. Reply

    I have had IBS for a few years now and I was put on Bentyl because the spasms in my upper intestines are horrible. When I get these spasms on the left upper abdomen they tend to trip-off an irregular heart beat (skipped beats) and palpitations. The Bentyl stops this but it is very weird! Does anyone else experience this? My doctor has never heard of this happening. I read something about the vagus nerve being affected with intestinal spasms.

  39. Reply

    My mother and grandfather have IBS, so I’ve known about the symptoms all my life. But I didn’t know the severity of it until I was diagnosed with it a couple of years ago. Even growing up, I remember having a lot of stomach pain, but I never really mentioned it to my parents (it wasn’t as severe back then) Right now it’s 3:30 am where I live, and I can’t sleep because silly me decided to eat a beef and cheddar sandwich at 9:00 pm last night (had to pick up family from the airport, didn’t have time to cook). My stomach is in knots and I just feel downright awful. My doc prescribed be with a medication called Bentyl for the cramping. Sometimes it seems to help, other times it doesn’t. I think the hardest part of IBS is having to give up so many of the foods that I love. And the fact that there’s no real cure for IBS makes me ask myself: “Will I live the rest of my life in pain?” Some days I literally just want to cry from the pain. And people who don’t have IBS (those lucky people!) don’t understand. They think you’re just whining or being dramatic. Anyways, I appreciate the tips you’ve given. I am going to try some of them and see if they work. And hopefully soon my cramping will be gone and I can go back to bed!

    Thanks again.

  40. Reply

    I was diagnosed with IBS in 1978. At the time, I was told I need to “chill” and take things easier. Now is 2013 and I still have it. I have learnt the hard way to live with. Yes, there are bad days, but mostly good days. So take this for what it is worth. Eat little, never fill your stomach full. I do drink coffee (hello caffeine)..that is not good for your stomach, colon or IBS. But I drink half a cup with a little almond milk in it. Stay away from sugar. Leave the sweets so someone else. That also includes alcohol, and sugar substitutes. If you have to eat a treat. Eat it as the last thing not the first thing. Mix it up in your digestive tract with good food. Stay away from chemicals and preservatives. Go with good old fashion home cooking. Moderation is the key. Think…excercise…even walking helps your digestion. If your stomach and colon get cranky when you are trying to sleep, take a tylenol before you go to bed. Drink water when you feel the cramps…it helps ease everything down. Remember, when you have an attack…Hydrate…even if you are running to the toilet you need to keep water in your body. Take care all.

    • Reply

      Sulli, that was AWESOME.

      Sorry to hear of your long battle. Thanks for helping the rest of us. Really. Thanks.


  41. Reply

    Ive been having horrible stomach cramps in upper stomach (abs) a knot pulling feeling that is ruining my life :( ive been A & E twice it was so painful i was prescribed buscopan and Mebeverine which havent helped much. I had an endoscopy down which highlighted acid reflux and also IBS. im just struggling day by day . any help would be appreciated of things to try as im worn out with it!!

    • Reply

      Robert that’s horrible! This sounds even more severe than IBS, which is horrible enough in itself. If you just had an upper endoscopy then they probably wouldn’t claim IBS, so I’m assuming you also had a colonoscopy or something like it. If not, then I think you should, considering the pain your in. I don’t know much about the medications your taking since I’m not a doctor, but if they’re not helping you must find something else. If your doctor won’t keep working with you, I recommend finding another one. Agony doesn’t HAVE to be part of your daily life. Another thing to consider is going on a really plain easy to digest diet, and seeing if that helps. If it does your issues may have something to do with food. I don’t have much on diet as of this writing. but there is something called the BRAT diet, bananas rice apple sauce and toast, that’s supposed to be pretty easy to digest. There are some suggestions about finding trouble foods here: I hope you get some relief from all this. Shawn

      • Reply

        hey Shawn my name is Tonia I was diagnosed with IBS in 2005and I never had cramping pains the way I do now its got me scared the pain is out of this world I use to get some pain now I can’t handle it plus I get nausea feel like I’m gunna past out should I be worried or can your IBS change

        • Reply

          2005 was a long time ago. I would go back to the doctor to make sure nothing has changed!

    • Reply

      I had the same excruciating pains six years ago and had endoscopy which diagnosed gall bladder problems. Small stones would get trapped in a bile duct (can’t remember the exact diagnosis), but greasy cheeseburgers and booze (over eating and over drinking) brought it on both times. Lost some weight and watched the diet, took a prilosec every day and haven’t had it since. I know the pain…was probably 9/10 and lasted 4 hours. Good luck.

  42. Reply

    hi, I’ve had pain(cramps) in my lower ab for 10 years…I’ve been to the obgyn and they had no idea, recently about a year ago I went to a gastro doc and by listening to me told me he thought it was IBS and gave me anti dressant meds…this made me feel awful and i got the worst pain ever… My pain switches from the left to the right. Sometimes i puke from them and they make me scared to do normal things and leave the house. The cramps also will stop for a week or so and then come back. I also get pain in my back. does this sound like IBS?

    • Reply

      Hi Kristen, I’ve not heard anyone describe IBS like that (at least not yet). I believe that a woman’s nerves in that area are a lot more complicated though, so the pain in the back may have something to do with that. You said the pain switched from side to side. Does it always switch to the same places, or does it move around.

      Also, I wonder if it’s in the same place on both sides, like on either side of your belly button for instance. That may give you a clue.

      It’s interesting that the anti-depressant meds made the pain worse.

      I know it sucks, I really do. But I’d try a different Gastroenterologist. From what you described, this one doesn’t sound like he was very thorough.

      Just my opinion. – Shawn

  43. Reply

    Hi there.

    I’ve had IBS for a while and get variation between diarrhoea and constipation. I am now currently on a low fodmap diet which helps control my bloating.
    However I had a bad experience in Spain a couple of years ago where I got bad diarrhoea on a train, felt very ill like I was gonna pass out. Since then I’ve developed really bad anxiety and panic attacks about being incontinent in public, and having diarrhoea in the car. I am only 26 and can’t keep living with this fear! :(

    • Reply

      Amy that must be SO hard to cope with. You didn’t mention whether the fodmap diet was helping with your diarrhea, so I’m assuming it’s not.

      I have several thoughts on this, so bear with me.

      Have you been able to track down any food triggers? That may help you from having an unexpected bout. There is some info about that here:

      THIS NEXT PART IS IMPORTANT! Panic attacks run in my family (yes, they can be hereditary), so I know what I’m talking about on this next bit.

      Panic attacks and anxiety like you’re talking about can cripple your life. First it’s trains (or whatever) then it’s restraunts, school, or work, then people end up not leaving their houses. IN MY OPINION IT’S VERY IMPORTANT to get help before that happens. That usually (almost always) means going to a mental health professional for anxiety/panic treatment. DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT THAT. People often don’t like to talk about it, but A LOT of people go to therapy. You’re young. You don’t have to spend your whole life afraid.

      Next a practical matter. Embarrasing? Yes. But they have things you can wear for incontinence. They may not prevent it, but they can stop it from being PUBLIC problem, until you can get to the bathroom. Here in the USA there often called “Depends”, and frankly, they’re like adult diapers.

      I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear, but if it helps you get to the bathroom or loo in time, then they may help your anxiety. Another idea to help ease worry, is to maybe put together some kind of small cleanup kit, facial tissue or what we call baby wipes, etc. They could be used to help in an emergency.

      As far as feeling like you’re going to pass out, sometimes that’s related to a vasovegal response. There’s a little info on that here:

      I’m passing all this along to try to give you tools to avoid your fear. Please use whatever gives you comfort, but PLEASE see someone about the panic!

      I wish you the very best. – Shawn

  44. Reply

    Hi Shawn,

    I’m a 26 yr old female and for the past 2 weeks I have been getting severe stomach pain after I eat. I also get extreme hot and cold flashes and nauseous at times. I tried altering my diet and the foods that I eat but nothing is helping. I eat pretty healthy and was working out a good amount before the pain started. I have gone to my dr and they tested my blood and stool and everything came back normal. They also gave me an ultrasound which came back normal and are now referring me to a gastroenterologist. However they are so booked up I can’t get an apt until may 30! Have you experienced hot and cold flashes an nausea with IBS?

    • Reply

      Hi Ryann,

      It sucks when you’re doing the right things like eating well, and exercising, and then get sick anyway.

      I’m in a pretty good place as far as IBS is concerned, unless I “fall off the wagon” and eat something I shouldn’t. When I WAS having a lot of trouble, I’d have abdominal pain which was sometimes severe. Severe or not, this would lead to feeling faint, getting the sweats (mild), and sometimes I’d get hot and cold “waves”. I mean, It would last for for several minutes or an hour, as opposed to a quick thing that might be called a flash. Does that help any?

      It sucks when you’re feeling miserable, and can’t even get in to see someone about it for weeks or even months! I earnestly wish you relief!


  45. Reply

    Hi Shawn

    I got back from a 4 year around the world trip and along with seeing amazing things I also picked up a few things along the way. A couple of major stomach and small intestinal infections, minor dengue fever, parasites/geardia to name a few. When I was travelling I had major problems with my guts and on and off diarrhea, that I wrote off as travel stuff. When I got home it got worse! Unemployed, penniless and living with family trying to get back in the groove.

    Working and the stress caused nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, depression, massive stomach pains and many trips in tears to the Dr’s.

    Eventually I was sent to a Tropical Disease Specialist and before he ran any tests he told me to start taking lots of fibre every day. He suggested 2 heaping tablespoons of metamusil or similar a day. In the 3 weeks while I waited for my results things were starting to get under control. It took a specialist to tell me to eat fibre and that I had post-infectious IBS!

    It’s been a few months now, I’m still taking the fibre and things were getting better, but now I am sick again?? The way the Dr was talking he made it sound like after about 6-8 months my stomach should get better and I would be ok.

    Can post-infectious IBS go away?? It’s only been 4 months, I have a better job, and trying to keep stress down, sleep well but every time I try to do something more physical like go for a long bike ride it drags me down and gets me sick. It’s really frustrating!

    Can it go away, or am I stuck with this for life?

    Today I had to leave work because of the pain, I really need to figure out what I can and can’t eat. I will try no dairy and wheat and hopefully it’ll help. Any suggestions on reading material about food?

    Any advice would be great!

    • Reply

      That sounds like an AMAZING trip, Sheryl. Sorry to hear that you’ve ended up with more than memories and photographs.

      It’s too bad that you had to go to a tropical disease specialist to hear you may have post-infectious IBS, and also a need to increase fiber.

      You didn’t mention if the specialist actually ran the tests and if he or she found anything, though. Did any of that happen? Meanwhile, IBS symptoms seem to come and go for many people. The symptoms often subside for a bit and then come roaring back. Maybe that’s what you are experiencing.

      Food may certainly be an issue. I read somewhere that a severe bowel infection can damage parts of the bowel that are active in absorbing certain foods. That in my layman’s opinion, is one of the reasons that people end up having these kinds of troubles after a serious bowel infection (stomach bug).

      If it were me, the first thing I would do is follow up with the specialist. He or she gave you some advice that has helped, and that person may have some more useful information to give you.

      Also, I think it would be worth trying to find out if some foods are causing you some problems. I have info about that here:

      If your gut bacteria is out of whack (technical jargon, I know :) ) you might be helped by a probiotic. I have info about that here:

      All of this IS very frustrating. That’s why people end up here at this site, looking for answers. It sounds like you’re an active and adventurous person, and not being able to go on hikes, etc. must make you miserable.

      Can post-infectious IBS go away, you ask? IBS is a name for a bunch of symptoms. The symptoms can go away, or get better (okay, they can get worse, too). Finding things that help YOU feel better is what you have to focus on.

      I believe that you will find relief. It may clear up just like your doctor told you. If not, DON’T settle for suffering! Keep trying until you GET some relief. Good Luck! Shawn

  46. Reply

    Hi there Shawn, Just saw this article and it looked very helpful to me. I was diagnosed with ‘IBS’ by the doctor and I feel this is an extremely ambiguous and lazy term given by doctors. I then went to a local healthfood store after being told I just had to deal with ‘IBS’ and had an allergy testing using a VEGA testing method. The lady told me that she reckoned I have a wheat intolerance, and also said that I have a Fungal/Yeast/Bacterial infection in my gut. I haven’t had any colonoscopies, and haven’t been to a doctor since the said VEGA testing. I’ve had IBS like symptoms for 3-4 years now, (including diarrhea, stomach cramps, irregular period e.c.t..) and i’m pretty tired of it, as no definite answer as to what’s happening in my tummy has been given. I’m currently starting to take ‘Yeo valley’ yoghurts as aparently these contain the most good bacteria, can you suggest anything else that might help me? I would greatly appreciate a reply, thanks :) (sorry for the long question!)

    • Reply

      Don’t apologize for the long question Janie :). I suppose I should keep comments short too, but I blather on :). The comments become a page all by themselves it seems.

      I rather agree about the ambiguous term thing. If you’ve run out of options with your doctor, then (in my layman’s opinion) the best way to go is with eliminating foods that trigger your IBS (if you find any) and probiotics. I’ve been reading about other kinds of probiotics.

      There is something called kefir crystals. Basically dried bacteria (sounds apetizing, I know), and it’s supposed to be very helpful in stabilizing gut bacteria. It reproduces, so once you buy some I don’t think you have to buy more. I’m still looking into it though.

      In fact I ordered some Yesterday (April 7, 2013) and I hope to write a page on it soon.

  47. Reply

    Hello Shawn, I wanted to get your input on this.

    My main symptoms that I seem to get is muscle pain through-out the body, it can be in my legs, arms, back, basically anywhere, along with diarrhea, but the diarrhea doesn’t seem to come that often anymore, it’s really only soft stools. I get a sore throat too(like once every 2-3 months that only lasts a week? During that time. I once had a real bad attack where I would have real bad abdominal pain that would only be relieved by a bowel movement(this happened for only one day). I had a canker sore in my mouth. So from your experience. Does this sound like IBS? Colon cancer? Ulcerative Colitis? Chron’s?

    By the way, I did tons of tests, and everything is negative, I’m not anemia or anything. The only thing that did come back positive is the hemoglobin/hemotocrit came back slightly higher then normal, can you explain if that’s normal with IBS or what not? I know it’s not a sign of anemia? Any help is appreciated. What do you recommend I should eat?

    • Reply

      Hi Matt, WOW, that sounds complicated! I’m not remotely qualified to thell you anything about hemoglobin, or cancer or any other medical diagnosis. BUT, that being said, I’ve not heard of the kind of symptoms you’re talking about being typical for IBS.

      It does sound like there is something that might be flaring up, causing canker sores and what not. If it was a food, it would likely be something you only eat once in a while, due to the amount of time between symptoms.

      One way to find a food intolerance is to keep a food diary, then when you have symptoms look back over the last few days, to see if there is some pattern.

      As far as the tests you’ve had to go through, that sucks! If your regular doctor can’t find anything, I would consider a naturopath or an osteopath. These are different kinds of doctors, with different approaches. They may be able to help if regular doctors can’t.

      I wish you the best!


  48. Reply

    I feel nauseous most of the time I have constant cramping in my lower abdomin usually central that worsens with my menstral cycle and recently for the first time in my life I’ve started to get headaches and being fatigued most of the time to the point where caffeine doesn’t help to wake me up much.. Does this sound like ibs?

    • Reply

      Hi Amber,
      IBS is a diagnosis when everything else has been ruled out. A lot of what you describe here DOES sound like IBS, but the constant fatigue, and especially the headaches aren’t something that I typically would associate with IBS.

      I REALLY think you should go have it checked out. It could be anything from anemia to some kind of infection, to who knows what. Whatever it may be, you DEFINITELY want to catch it early!!! Please, please, have see the doc. I know it’s a pain in the butt, but it might change or (not to be dramatic) actually save your life. Just my thoughts on the matter. If you think of it, stop back and let me and the rest of us know what happens. Thanks and good health! – Shawn

    • Reply

      Amber, I would get to an OBGYN for advice. I have had similar problems of headaches and fatigue in the past due to hormone imbalances. Constant abdominal pain could be due to something like endometriosis. I’m no professional but I have a friend who has that and the symptoms sound similar.

  49. Reply

    Hi this is my first ever post I have not been diagnosed with ibs but to be honest I have lost all faith in drs but my symptoms are fatigue stomach cramps intermittent diarrhea upper abdominal pain after drinking alcohol or anything with caffeine and certain foods, is making my life a misery

    • Reply

      I’m so sorry to hear that Sharon. There is competent medical help out there. I’m sorry you haven’t found it yet. Meanwhile, if you avoid the foods you suspect of causing you problems, do you get relief???

  50. Reply

    Hi Shawn,

    I’ve suffered from ibs for 6 years and when I think I’ve figured it out I have another attack. One thing I’ve found myself that helps is oregano oil drops. I mix 4 drops with a small amount of juice ( I usually only drink water but it tastes awful together) in the morning and it seems to help. I know it’s not a cure but if it helps at least one person with some relief I’m happy.

    • Reply

      WOW! I’ve never heard of THAT one! Thanks for the tip Ashley. I’ll be happy if it helps at least one person too.

  51. Reply

    Dos IBS have anything to do with alcohol intake. my bowels get irritated the moment I put my lips to the glass

    • Reply

      Hello Maiden, I DEFINITELY think alcohol can affect IBS. I wrote a page about it called Alcohol and Diarrhea

      I hope it helps you find some answers! – Shawn

  52. Reply

    It is pretty scary. I’m beginning to get worried, especially since the doctors don’t know what is going on. He has changed his diet, in fact, he doesn’t even have much of an appetite anymore. He’s lost about 25 pounds.He describes his throat as “raw” and “very sore”. He also said that the acid blockers he was on have stirred up his IBS. Thank you for your help and advice, hopefully they figure it out soon! -John

    • Reply

      I found this webpage two years after your post. I hope your Dad has gotten some relief from his throat problem. I had the same thing. I went to Mass Eye & Ear, a mega hospital in Boston, and they could see that I had inflammation that high up from the reflux. They had me take, besides the acid reflux med I was already taking, Ranitidine just before bedtime, That helped within a few days. Reflux can definitely get that high, although a GI doctor may not believe it, ENTs know.

  53. Reply

    He’s been to quite a few doctors already. None of them seem to know what is wrong. He’s beginning to lose his voice. What did you do to get your larynx fixed? Did you need surgery? Because the medicines he has been on (acid blockers) did not help at all. Thanks for your help!

    • Reply

      That’s scary stuff! I didn’t need surgery. Time healed my larynx after the acid blockers slowed the reflux. I still have to be careful what I eat (no greasy food, and minimal dairy, no wheat), or I get acid up my throat. I do know it has affected my voice some. I used to be able to sing a bit better. I don’t have the sore throat anymore though. I REALLY hope you folks find the answers you need, and quick! – Shawn

      • Reply

        P.S. Also, no coffee (decaf or otherwise) or dark chocolate in the evenings before bed, or I pay dearly.

        • Reply

          My doctor wants me to drink coffee with benafiber and maarulax truth is my stomach is hurting like crazy

        • Reply

          Having honey helps heal the burns on your larynx…Also my GERD is nearly non existant as my nutritionist asked me to have an enzyme tablet for digestion. I also have IBS constipation… and notice that only when my constipation becomes bad the acid reflux returns….Im on a different laxative once every week. Epsom salt and Triphala churan seem to work the best.

  54. Reply

    Hi Shawn,

    My dad has IBS and its possible he may have GERD too. He has had a sore throat for about 8 months now. He thinks it may be reflux, he tried 4 or 5 different acid blockers but had no luck. Do you ever get a sore throat because of GERD?

    • Reply

      IBS and GERD VERY OFTEN go together (are comorbid). At least that’s what I’ve read. I know I’ve had reflux for years. At one point it burned my larynx (the voicebox in the throat), so YES it can cause a sore throat! Your dad should DEFINATELY have an 8 month sore throat checked out. GERD can damage the esophagus (the pipe between the throat and the stomach) and other tender parts! There is medication to help GERD quite effectively. I hope you can convince him to go. Shawn

      • Reply

        I cured a very severe prolonged case of GERD in two weeks by drinking Aloe Vera Juice with an herbal infusion marketed especially for those with stomach problems. All aloe products are definitely not equal! This one is called Aloe Life Herbal Stomach. It tastes great, too! Switched to all organic home cooked foods(nothing out of a box) no microwave or Teflon, no tap water (protected locally sourced aquifers only -aka true spring water).

        Stay away from big pharma solutions and never take ibuprofin if you can take something that doesn’t destroy the lining of your stomach! You’ll be less puzzled if you stay away from conventional medicine and stick to healthy natural foods and cures.

        And yes, absolutely, cramps from PMS can trigger back and gut pain, just like back pain can trigger super bad menstrual cramps. There is no medical mystery here. They have long been connected, because they are proximal regions and can set each other off. I recommend edible cannibus butter, but make sure it is not Sativa…it must be an Indica strain to cure pain. It works very quickly.

      • Reply

        People people people ! Stay away from medication as much as you can try to treat the cause rather than symptoms when you get GERD this is actually because there isnt enough stomach acid in your stomach. The muscle that closes is therefore not working as well. Please do research on this. We are taught to believe the opposite of what’s true those ant acid drugs are actually doing more damage !!!

        • Reply

          I was looking to see if anyone wrote this. I had a bad case of reflux after a 4 week holiday in the States (limited access to healthy food over there!!) and cured it in a couple of days by drinking shots of apple cider vinegar when I got home. I suffer from all sorts of symptoms so avoid all wheat, dairy and sugar to prevent IBS pains.

  55. Reply

    Speaking of the menstrual cycle, some people believe that menstrual cramps can set off IBS cramps…. I total believe this. If I have menstrual cramping I will without fail have IBS.

    • Reply

      Thanks for letting me and others know. I think that’s likely a common experience. It must be rough to know your definitely going to have IBS at least every 28 days. Shawn

  56. Reply

    IBS makes me want to kill myself, the only relief i ever get is when i use copious amounts of cannabis(marijuana), and completely avoid alcohol. Is there any way to control IBS?

    • Reply

      Hey there Tay, That’s a scary thought. If you think you’re going to hurt yourself in any way, I urge you to call 911, and/or get emergency help. That’s ONE CURE for IBS I DON’T RECOMMEND!!!!!

      As for the other parts of your message, I’ve heard that cannabis is used by cancer patients and others with chronic pain. Some people have used hypnosis and find it very effective. Some people find out that they have a food sensitivity I have pages about that (dairy and wheat especially).

      Antidepressants sometimes help people with IBS. I’m getting ready to write a page about a recents study I read about that. I hope you’ll try the medical help option, and look around this and other sites, for tips for helping yourself. All the best! Shawn

      • Reply

        i am allergic to wheat and dont always avoid it. just drinking aloe,$6.50/gal walmart a large swallow evry morning helps ibs. I pray. I think about relaxing aromas like Sweetheart soap. Manhattan does not make it anymore but just thinking about that flowery smell…mmmm

        • Reply

          Sweetheart soap can be found on Amazon I’m sure there are other places but start there

    • Reply

      Have any of you had really horrible cramps for an entire week non-stop? I’m dealing with that now and am actually nauseous from the pain. It’s never been this bad before.

      • Reply

        When I first started having ibs yes as I can’t drink pure smoothies or juice as it gives me the same pain your experiencing. Hope you feel better soon. Katie x

    • Reply

      Cannabis is the only thing that helps me too. I’ve been using it since 2003 for my stomach issues. And it’s much less toxic than meds. I’m so grateful for our green medicine.

  57. Reply

    Shawn – you can be tested for fructose malabsorption, it is a simple breath test. Good luck.

    • Reply

      Yes, the hydrogen breath test. I’ve been meaning to get around to writing a page about that. My Gastroenterologist tells me I don’t have fructose malabsorption, but I’ve never had the breath test. Thanks for the nudge!

  58. Reply

    You mentioned that fruit makes you REALLY sick. Sounds like you are suffering from fructose malabsorption and not IBS. A hospital in Australia have discovered that a high number of patients who thought they had IBS in fact had fructose malabsorption. You can be breath tested for it. And to correct it you need to follow something called a FODMAP diet. If you search on the internet for some of the things I suggest you will get a lot more info. Hope that helps and good luck.

    • Reply

      Steve, thanks so much for taking the time. That is valuable information! Actually it’s only certain fruits that make me sick. An not necessarily the ones higher in fructose. I did speak to my Gastroenterologist on this and he was puzzled. Your comment will help others though, I’m sure.

      Thanks again.


      • Reply

        I had gastric bypass surgery 2 years ago and been having mild cramping since then nothing that I couldn’t live with. But now I’ve had a hysterectomy and the pains what I have in my intestines is the worst ever. It hurts so bad that I cry, throw up and at times pass out from the pain. My doctor just gave me still softeners but my poop is not ever hard or runny. But it still hurts so bad that I can not function till I finally pass all the gas or poop. I see my doctor again on Monday and going to discuss this again with him. It has been 10 weeks since my hysterectomy so if it was due to that it should not be hurting any more as I’ve been off pain killers for over 3 weeks now. Any help our ideas to ask my doctor would be greatly appreciated.

        • Reply

          Sorry to hear you are suffering. From what I know, a lot of the nerves in that area are connected like branches on a tree. I would talk to the doctor about that to see if he or she can provide any info about why you may be hurting so badly. Please do a search for visceral hypersensitivity or just visceral in the search box above. It may give you some clues about what’s going on with you. I hope you can get some relief.

        • Reply


          I knew someone with some of your symptoms and her doctor finally found out she had scar tissue from her surgery.

          Hope you don’t, but hey.

      • Reply

        Fruit with small seeds can cause a problem. Like strawberries.

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