What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is also termed as spastic colon. This is a health problem that concerns the body’s digestive system. This is characterized by alteration of bowel habits bloating, chronic abdominal pain and discomfort in the digestive tract. Since there is an alteration in the bowel habits, the individual suffering from IBS can either experience LBM or constipation.

Signs and Symptoms of IBS

Primarily, people with IBS experience discomfort associated with frequent alteration of bowel habits; constipation and diarrhea. Abdominal pain is another common symptom to IBS. There are also other symptoms such as the following:

  • Feeling of being bloated
  • A need for frequent bowel movements
  • Feeling of incomplete defecation

In most cases, IBS patients experience some sort of relief after the defecating. Studies have shown that 60% of IBS patients are diagnosed with anxiety, depression and psychological disorder. Therefore, bowel movement tends to be unpredictable considering the signs and symptoms. It is also common for IBS patients to experience gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, headache and fatigue.

Causes of IBS

Although there are a number of hypotheses on IBS, the cause is still unknown. However, it is reviewed that patients who have gone through acute gastrointestinal infection may have greater chances of experiencing IBS. In another viewpoint, depression, anxiety, prolonged fever and young age are some of the risk factors to IBS.

On the physiological aspect, IBS is explained further through the functioning of the intestinal tract. When IBS occurs, contraction in the intestines is stronger and longer lasting as compared to the normal intestinal contractions which follows a coordinated rhythm as soon as food enters the stomach. The normal intestinal contraction occurs from the duodenum down to the rectum. The bloated feeling in IBS is because of food moving from the stomach to the intestines in an abnormal pace which tends to be very fast. Apart from bloating, patient also experiences diarrhea.

IBS can also happen the other way around. Food processed from the stomach to the intestines slows down causing the stool to harden and dry-up. In this case, constipation is experienced.

Patients with IBS may also encounter abnormal levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical which is responsible in the normal functioning of the brain. This chemical also functions in the normal functioning of the digestive system. The abnormality of the bowel movement of IBS patients can possibly have an imbalance of good bacteria in the intestine.

What Triggers IBS?

What triggers IBS vary from person to person. Some of the elements or factors that trigger IBS are the following:

  • Food Intake – Although there are no specific food types that cause IBS, there are examples of food that causes the symptoms. This example of foods can cause either diarrhea or constipation: alcohol, milk, chocolate. Examples of food that cause bloating are vegetables and fruits.
  • Hormones – While IBS happens more frequently in women, it is studied that hormonal changes is a factor to this condition. Actually, when women have their menstrual period, the signs and symptoms worsen.
  • Stress – Stressful events in the life of IBS patients actually worsen the sign and symptoms. Although stress magnifies the symptoms, it is not a factor that causes IBS.

Could you be suffering from Coeliac Disease?

Often the symptoms of Coeliac Disease are wrongly identified as those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The best way to find out if gluten could be the cause of your irritable bowel (IBS) symptoms is to take a Coeliac Disease Test. The Zoom Health test for coeliac disease is straight-forward and accurate and will give you a result in only 10 minutes.

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2015.

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