IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as it is known in full, is one of the most common gastroenterological conditions. Characterised by abdominal pain, cramping, excessive gas, diarrhoea, constipation, and other signs, approximately one in five Australians experience these symptoms at some point or another, according to the Gastroenterological Society of Australia.
Many, however, are unaware of what causes or triggers this condition. This post dives into this topic to help readers understand IBS better.
For those who believe they may be experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to consult gastroenterology specialists for diagnosis and medical treatment.
Causes of IBS
For anyone who experiences diarrhoea as a result of a bacterial infection or virus, it is not uncommon to experience certain symptoms of IBS. This is because this condition is often associated with an excess of bacteria or bacterial overgrowth in the intestines.
While not every case of diarrhoea or gastroenteritis will lead to a diagnosis of the latter, individuals affected must pay attention to how they feel while they recover.
Intestinal muscle contractions
Strong contractions in the intestines could be another cause of this condition.
When food moves down the digestive tract, the layers of muscle that line the walls of the intestines contract. When these contractions are stronger than usual and last longer, they can cause symptoms of IBS including bloating, flatulence, and diarrhoea.
Weaker contractions, on the other hand, can slow the passing of food and lead to hard stools.
Disruption to the nervous system
If the nerves in the digestive system are experiencing certain disturbances, it is possible for the stomach to stretch as a result of gas or stool.
This can cause plenty of discomfort especially since poor coordination between the brain and intestines causes the body to overreact to normal processes that take place in the digestive system. As a result of this, individuals may experience pain, constipation or diarrhoea.
Inflammation in the intestines
For patients with an increased number of immune system cells in their intestines, it’s possible that IBS may develop as a result of this.
This is because the response within their bodies may be associated with pain and diarrhoea – two of the most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Changes in gut bacteria/microflora
Microflora is one of the more beneficial types of bacteria that reside in the intestines. For a number of complex reasons, this type of bacteria plays a crucial role in an individual’s overall health.
When changes take place to the microflora in the digestive system, it is, sometimes, possible to develop symptoms of IBS. Research in this area has shown that individuals with and without IBS show certain differences in the microflora content in their guts.
What triggers IBS?
Apart from causal factors, there are also certain triggers for this condition. These include:
For those with IBS, stress is a common enemy that needs to be controlled at all times. While it’s unlikely that stress alone can cause this condition, it can certainly aggravate a patient’s symptoms if it isn’t managed properly.
Food is another culprit. While the connection between food and IBS may not be entirely clear, experience in this field has shown that certain types of food can trigger IBS-related symptoms.
Trigger-friendly foods include dairy products, beans, citrus fruits, wheat-based items, carbonated drinks, and even cabbage.
Hormones may also play a role when it comes to experiencing the symptoms of this condition.
Unfortunately, women may be more likely to display signs of IBS. Pain and discomfort may get worse during or around the time they experience their periods.
Seeking professional medical treatment for IBS
With the right treatment and condition management plan, IBS can be controlled with great success.
It’s crucial, however, that those who suffer symptoms of this condition consult experienced gastroenterology specialists, especially if they’re serious about alleviating their pain and discomfort. It’s important not to allow these symptoms to worsen over time or attempt self-diagnosis – expert guidance is key to achieving optimum health.