Essential Strategies for Controlling IBS Flare-Ups: A Detailed Guide

Essential Strategies for Controlling IBS Flare-Ups: A Detailed Guide

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It's characterised by symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation, often alternating between the two.

While IBS doesn't cause permanent damage to the digestive tract, IBS flare-up symptoms can significantly impact a person's quality of life.

The exact cause of IBS is still not fully understood, but it's believed to involve a combination of factors like abnormal muscle contractions in the intestines, inflammation, changes in gut bacteria and heightened sensitivity to certain things.

An IBS flare-up is the period where symptoms and discomfort get worse. These can be triggered by things like stress, certain foods, hormonal changes, medications or changes in routine. Everyone will experience it differently and have different triggers that set off their IBS.

Effectively managing IBS flare-ups is really important for improving the overall quality of life for people with IBS. If you don’t manage your flare-ups, they can disrupt your daily activities, lead to social withdrawal and cause you to need time off work. They can even contribute to emotional distress and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

By implementing strategies to control an IBS flare-up, you can regain a sense of control and reduce the IBS flare-up symptoms you’re experiencing. This can really boost the quality of your day-to-day life and help you to live more comfortably.

Read on to discover how to calm an IBS flare-up, including 5 top tips.

Common IBS flare-up symptoms

IBS flare-up symptoms can vary in intensity and how long you experience them for. IBS looks and feels different from person to person, and in some cases, you’ll experience contrasting symptoms between different episodes, depending on your triggers and the situation.

Some of the most common IBS flare-up symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation

You might also experience some less common symptoms when you’re experiencing an IBS flare-up, including fatigue, nausea and backache. It’s important to recognise the symptoms of your own flare-ups so you can manage them more effectively and get relief quickly.

How long does an IBS flare-up last?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. The duration of an IBS flare-up can vary depending on the person and situation. One episode might be very different to a previous one, even in the same person.

Generally, flare-ups can last anywhere from a few hours to several days or even weeks, depending on what’s caused them and the severity of the flare-up.

Factors like diet, stress levels and medication can all affect how long an IBS flare-up lasts. Your own gut sensitivity will also play a part in how your body responds to triggers and how long an episode of IBS goes on for.

IBS can manifest as chronic or episodic flare-ups. Chronic flare-ups involve persistent or recurring symptoms that last for a longer period, often needing ongoing management. Episodic flare-ups occur less frequently, with periods of remission between episodes.

Prevention strategies for IBS flare-ups

When it comes to IBS, there are some preventative measures you can try to get in control of your flare-ups. These strategies will depend on your own triggers and experiences, and there may be a little trial and error at first to find the right management strategy for you. It’s important to be consistent and not to get disheartened when you first start out trying to manage your IBS.

Changing your diet can help you manage IBS flare-up symptoms. Start by keeping a food diary to identify foods that trigger symptoms so you can avoid or limit them. Adding more fibre into your diet and drinking enough water to stay hydrated can also help with IBS symptoms.

Reducing stress and doing things like practising relaxation techniques and getting regular exercise can also help to reduce IBS flare-ups. They can help improve your digestion, as well as help you to relax.

5 strategies to manage an IBS flare-up

During an IBS flare-up, it's essential to have some strategies in place to help alleviate symptoms and heal your gut. Here are five ways to help you calm an IBS flare-up the next time you feel one coming up.

Dietary adjustments

Making dietary changes can help reduce IBS flare-up symptoms and provide relief. Here’s what to eat during an IBS flare-up to help manage your symptoms.

Go for easily digestible foods such as plain rice, bananas, cooked vegetables and lean proteins like chicken or tofu. Limit or avoid common trigger foods such as dairy, spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol and high-fat foods while keeping a food diary to identify any other triggers.

Many people find success with a low-FODMAP diet. This dietary approach reduces the consumption of certain types of carbohydrates that aren’t absorbed well by the small intestines.

FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. They are found in a variety of foods and can trigger symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation in individuals with sensitive digestive systems.

By limiting high-FODMAP foods such as certain fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and sweeteners, a low-FODMAP diet aims to reduce fermentation and gas production in the gut, providing relief from IBS flare-up symptoms. It’s important to take advice from your doctor or dietician before you start a low-FODMAP diet.

Medications and supplements

Many people find that medications help relieve and manage IBS symptoms. For example, antispasmodics can be used to help with abdominal cramping and pain by relaxing the muscles of the digestive tract. If you experience constipation when you have an IBS flare-up, then over-the-counter laxatives can help you relieve discomfort.

If you’re looking to prevent and reduce IBS flare-ups, then focusing on your gut health is a great idea.

Novomins probiotic supplements can help to rebalance your gut, reducing IBS symptoms. They help to maintain a healthy balance of gut flora, supporting your overall digestive wellness. Our Bio-Bac Gummies contain 50 million colony-forming units (CFU) from 11 clinically researched strains to help support your gut health and immune system.

Image of a bottle of Novomins Bio-Bac Gummies containing 11 strains of friendly bacteria

Using a daily supplement, like Novomins Apple Cider Vitamin Gummies, can help with bloating, tiredness and fatigue while also supporting your digestive system and immune system.

Novomins Women’s Bio-Balance is also great for gut health, with 4 billion friendly bacteria, digestive system support and three clinically studied probiotics to contribute to a healthy gut.

Image of a bottle of Novomins Women’s Bio-Balance Gummies.

Stress reduction techniques

Stress management is essential for managing IBS symptoms, as stress can make flare-ups worse. Relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation and breathwork can all have a calming effect that can reduce stress, tension and anxiety — both in general and in relation to your IBS.

Exercise can also help reduce stress by supplying your body with plenty of endorphins (the happy hormone), improving your sleep and supporting your overall health. This can all lead to you feeling less stress day to day, which can, in turn, help your IBS flare-up symptoms.

Daily routine modifications

Adjusting your daily activities can help reduce stress on your digestive system during a flare-up. Don’t underestimate the importance of getting enough rest and building a healthy sleep pattern. This can support healing, helping you manage stress and reduce the fatigue that’s often associated with IBS flare-ups.

Some low-impact exercises like walking or swimming can also help to promote circulation and ease digestive discomfort. A regular exercise routine has lots of health benefits, not just for your gut health, and can help you manage stress and reduce the IBS flare-up symptoms related to this.

Seeking professional help

If your IBS flare-up symptoms persist or get worse despite trying to manage your symptoms yourself, it’s important to seek guidance from your doctor. If you experience severe or prolonged symptoms, or if your quality of life is significantly impacted by IBS, then it’s time to make an appointment to get some medical advice.

Gastroenterologists, dietitians and other healthcare professionals can provide personalised treatment plans and support for managing IBS symptoms effectively. You’ll usually need to visit your GP for a referral to these specialists under the NHS unless you’re already under their care.

Managing your IBS triggers with Novomins

IBS flare-ups can have a real impact on your quality of life. Managing your IBS flare-up symptoms is essential for feeling better and reducing the impact of this chronic condition. By understanding IBS triggers and implementing effective strategies, you can regain control over symptoms and experience relief.

It’s important to manage your symptoms in a way that works for you and your IBS triggers. Whether that’s making dietary adjustments, reducing stress, trying medication and supplements, changing your daily routine or seeking professional help.

Manage your gut health and take control of your IBS with Novomins Probiotic Gummies.


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Dr Peter McQuillan
BDS, MFDS P1, Dip Ortho Founder & Chief Formulator
With over 15 years of experience in the healthcare sector, Dr McQuillan is a highly esteemed professional in the healthcare space.


Akil Memishi
BSc Hons Pharmacology, ICH GCP Founder & Chief Clinical Researcher
Akil Memishi, co-founder of Novomins, combines his extensive clinical research experience with a passion for developing scientifically-backed nutritional products.
Review Date:
28 May 2024
Next Review:
26 April 2026
Published On:
28 May 2024
Last Updated:
28 May 2024