One in five Americans has irritable bowel syndrome, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. The condition causes a wide variety of symptoms that can make eating or even going about your day challenging. While staying away from fatty foods may seem obvious, carbonated drinks can also trigger IBS symptoms. If you often have a can of soda near you throughout the day, you may want to consider the potential gastrointestinal consequences.
What is IBS?
What causes irritable bowel syndrome is still unclear, but immune function, bacterial infection and a highly sensitive colon are a few of the theories. Abdominal pain and bloating are common symptoms. Changes in bowel habits -- including episodes of diarrhea or constipation -- are also primary signs of IBS. However, it's vital that you report such changes to your doctor as they can be a sign of more serious conditions as well. Both stress and diet can play a substantial role in the management of IBS.
Effect of Carbonation
Your intake of carbonated drinks can also affect your management of IBS. These beverages contribute to gas buildup within the abdominal area. When gas isn't passed, it accumulates in the intestines, causing bloating. This bloating can lead to abdominal discomfort, including both dull and sharp pains in the area. Carbonated drinks are one of the main dietary causes of these effects and should be avoided if you have IBS.
Effect of Caffeine & Sweeteners
The caffeine present in many carbonated drinks is also a concern if you have IBS. Caffeine can cause an increase in stomach acid production, which may contribute to abdominal discomfort. If your IBS tends to manifest through episodes of diarrhea, staying away from caffeine is important because it may worsen your condition. On the flip side, drinking caffeinated beverages can also contribute to constipation by worsening dehydration, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. The sweeteners often used in carbonated drinks can worsen IBS symptoms as well due to their laxative effect.
Examining Your Diet
Reducing or removing carbonated drinks from your diet may have a major impact on how you feel as you deal with the effects of IBS. A number of other foods and drinks, however, can also contribute to pain, discomfort, bloating and abnormal bowel function. Your consumption of other caffeinated items, such as chocolate and coffee, should be considered. Other diet components that are more likely to worsen IBS symptoms include fatty foods, large meals and dairy products. Keeping a diary of what you eat and when you have symptoms will help you determine what foods and drinks to steer clear of.
Is This an Emergency?
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; Irritable Bowel Syndrome; September 2007
- Mayo Clinic; Bloating, Belching and Intestinal Gas: How to Avoid Them; April 2011
- University of Wisconsin Health Services; Caffeine; 2004
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Problems of the Digestive System
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; Constipation; July 2007
- Indiana University Health Center: Digestive Disorders (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)