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Irritable Bowel Syndrome – What causes it?

woman sitting with stomach pain and folded legs

Irritable Bowel Syndrome – What causes it?

Welcome back!

Sasa here, your Health Assistant from Treat at Home.

About 10-15% people worldwide suffer from IBS but it’s exact cause is still unknown. Stress is believed to be one but the fact is otherwise with most people affected not being aware about the condition. So, let’s dive in to know more about the  causes, diagnosis and treatment of IBS.

a female sitting on bed folding her hands to hold stomach due to pain

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur together, including repeated pain in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movements, which may manifest as diarrhea or constipation or both. IBS is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder.

Functional GI disorders, which doctors now identify as disorders of gut-brain interactions, which means related to problems with how your brain and your gut work together. It is a chronic condition that can substantially reduce quality of life and work productivity.

Causes of IBS

Alterations in the gut microbes, intestinal permeability, gut immune function, visceral sensation, brain-gut interactions and psychosocial status are some of the common causes.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of IBS relies on symptom-based criteria, exclusion of concerning features (symptom onset after age 50 years, unexplained weight loss, family history of selected organic gastrointestinal diseases, evidence of gastrointestinal blood loss, and unexplained iron-deficiency anaemia).

woman with hand placed on stomach

Symptoms

Most common symptoms of IBS are:

– Abdominal pain or cramps, usually in the lower half of the abdomen

– Excess gas, bloating

– Bowel movements that are harder or looser than usual

– Diarrhoea, constipation or alternating between the two

– Mucus in your poop (may look whitish)

– Fever, weight loss

– Rectal bleeding

– Recurrent nausea

man with toilet roll in hand

Types of IBS

IBS types are based on different patterns of changes in bowel movements or abnormal bowel movements. Sometimes, it is important for your doctor to know which type of IBS you have as some medicines work only for some types of IBS or make other types worse. Your doctor might diagnose IBS even if your bowel movement pattern does not fit one particular type. Many people with IBS have normal bowel movements on some days and abnormal bowel movements on other days.

Constipated IBS

IBS with constipation, or IBS-C, is one of the more common types. There will be abdominal discomfort or bloating which is associated with constipation. At least 25% of the stools remain lumpy or hard and less than 25% are loose.

Diarrhea IBS

This type of IBS shows the opposite symptoms of IBS-C. More than a quarter of stools in abnormal bowel movement days are loose, while less than a quarter are hard and lumpy. One may also feel abdominal pain along with more frequent urges to go. Excessive gas is also common.

Mixed IBS

Mixed bowel habits or IBS-M is also sometimes called IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhea (IBS-A). Stools on abnormal bowel movement days will be both hard and watery.

Post-infectious IBS

Post-infectious (PI) IBS refers to symptoms that occur after a GI infection. After the infection, one may still have chronic inflammation along with issues with gut flora and intestinal permeability. Diarrhea is the most prominent sign of PI-IBS. Vomiting may also occur.

Post-diverticulitis IBS

Diverticulitis occurs when the small pouches that line the lower part of your large intestine called diverticula get infected or inflamed. The condition itself causes nausea, abdominal pain, and fever, along with constipation. Post-diverticulitis IBS is just one possible complication following diverticulitis.

glass of alcohol with chilli and satte in sticks

Food that trigger IBS

– Alcohol and spicy foods

– Very fatty foods, such as fried foods

– Gluten containing and high sugar foods

– Gas producing foods like beans, lentils, carbonated beverages

– High-fiber products like cereals, grains, pastas and processed foods

– Dairy products like milk, ice cream, sour cream, and cottage cheese, unless they are lactose-free

– Vegetables like artichokes, cabbage, asparagus, cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, onions, soybeans, sweet corn, green peas, snap peas, and snow peas

– Fruits like apples, apricots, blackberries, mangoes, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, ripe bananas, watermelon, and pears, whether whole or in juice

blood sample on a collection tube

IBS Diagnosis

– Complete blood cell count

– C-reactive protein

– Fecal calprotectin

– Serologic test

– Colorectal cancer screening

multiple objects depicting lifestyle modification

Treatment and Home Remedies

– Prescribed medication, supplements, dietary and lifestyle changes are treatments for IBS.

– Dietary sources of probiotics such as yogurt can help populate your gut with healthy bacteria to improve your digestive function.

– Pomegranate seeds are said to be the best medicine for any intestine and gut problems. It can be taken every day as a food that will help us from irritable bowel syndrome.

Author: Dr. Manasa

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