Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
While the exact cause of IBS is still unknown, a number of factors can contribute to the symptoms of IBS.
- An anomaly in digestion—the body moves food through the digestive system by squeezing and relaxing the muscles of the intestines. When the food moves too quickly it causes diarrhea, because the digestive system does not get enough time to absorb water from the food. On the other hand, if food moves too slowly it causes constipation, as too much water is absorbed, making your stools hard and difficult to pass.
- Extra sensitive bowel—abnormalities in the gastrointestinal nervous system can make people with IBS oversensitive to digestive nerve signals. For example, the body overreacts and treats mild indigestion as severe abdominal pain.
- IBS triggers—a number of stimuli can trigger the symptoms of IBS. However, not all people with the condition react to the same stimuli. These include:
- Foods such as chocolate, milk, fizzy drinks, alcohol, processed snacks, and spices.
- Stress—intense emotional states such as stress or anxiety can interfere with the working of the digestive system and worsen the symptoms.
- Hormones—it is believed that hormonal changes play a role in this condition in women as the symptoms seem to worsen during or around menstruation.
- Illness—acute gastroenteritis or bacterial overgrowth in the intestines can also trigger IBS.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The most common symptoms of IBS are:
- Abdominal pain and/or cramping that may be relieved after a bowel movement.
- Diarrhea or constipation.
- Bloating or swelling in the stomach.
- Mucus in stool
- Frequency of going to toilet increases
- Increased feeling that you have not completely emptied your bowels