IBS Causes

IBS Causes

What is Causing My IBS Symptoms?

Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a gastrointestinal disorder affecting up to 15 percent of adults. The condition is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, cramps, gas, constipation, and diarrhea.

What Causes of IBS?

The exact cause of IBS remains unclear; however, health experts have identified several possible causes of IBS symptoms:

  • The brain-gut connection—Faulty signals between the brain and the intestines may alter gastrointestinal motility. The muscles of the digestive tract may contract or spasm abnormally leading to pain and cramping. If the motility is slowed, the individual experiences hard stools and constipation. On the other hand, if the GI system moves too quickly, the person will suffer from diarrhea.
  • Genetics—Individuals who have family members with IBS are more likely to have the condition themselves.
What Causes IBS to Flare Up?

People with IBS have overly sensitive intestines that are more likely to react to certain stimuli. The following factors are known to trigger or exacerbate IBS symptoms in susceptible individuals:

  • Hormonal changes—Women are more likely to develop IBS than men. Many women report an increase in IBS symptoms during their menstrual cycle.
  • Psychological issues—Anxiety, stress, and depression can all trigger an IBS flare.
  • GI tract infections—Salmonella and other bacterial infections of the intestines can worsen IBS symptoms.
  • Medications—Individuals with IBS may experience a flare after taking certain medications, such as antibiotics.
  • IBS and foods—Some people have allergies or sensitivities that may cause them to experience IBS symptoms after eating certain foods. Triggers can vary from person to person, but common culprits include chocolate, cruciferous vegetables, dairy, beans, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and fatty or spicy foods.

    IBS Testing:

    Testing for irritable bowel syndrome is primarily based on ruling out other conditions that can affect the functioning of the intestines. The following are a few of the diagnostic tools doctors use to diagnose IBS:

    • A complete medical history.
    • Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy.
    • X-rays and CT scans.
    • Lower GI series.
    • Lactose intolerance tests.
    • Breath tests.
    • Blood and stool tests.

    Once other conditions are ruled out, a person is considered to have IBS if they have abdominal pain at least three days a month for three months and at least two of the following:

    • The discomfort is relieved by defecation.
    • The discomfort is accompanied by a change in stool frequency.
    • The discomfort is accompanied by a change in stool consistency.

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