Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS is a combination of pain or discomfort with your bowel.

It can be either due to eating less or eating more than the normal quantities and can result in diarrhea or constipation.

You might also have a different kind of stool.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease is not life-threatening and does not make you develop colon conditions like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or colon cancer.

However, it can be life-long or persist for a long period of time and changes the condition you live your life.

If you suffer from IBS, you are likely to miss out on your daily routine work, while there are times when people have to change their entire routine like shifting to home, changing hours, or not working at all.

This is a detailed guide on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS. Keep on reading to learn about its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and more. Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS

Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS

The exact causes of Irritable Bowel Diseases are not known however, the possible causes include an overly sensitive colon or immune system.

This is a detailed guide on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS. Keep on reading to learn about its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and more. Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBSMoreover, postinfectious IBS is due to previous bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal tract.

Because of the different causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it is difficult to prevent it.

Certain factors that play a role in causing IBS are:

  • Muscle Contractions in the Intestine
  • Severe Infection
  • Nervous System
  • Changes In Gut Microbes
  • Early life stress

Let’s discuss these causes as follows:

Muscle Contractions in Intestine

When you eat food, the walls of the intestines contract.

These walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscles and they contract to move food through your digestive tract.

The contractions of your intestines that are stronger and last longer than normal can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.muscle contractions

However, week intestinal contractions can slow food passage and lead to hard and dry stools.

Severe Infections

Irritable Bowel Syndrome can develop after a severe bout of diarrhea or gastroenteritis.

This is due to bacteria, or a virus. Bacterial infections are usually spread by consuming contaminated food or water, or by contact with infected people or animals.

Moreover, IBS is also associated with surplus bacteria in the intestines or bacterial overgrowth.

About 6–17% of individuals with IBS who had a previously normal bowel habit believe their illness began suddenly in association with an infectious illness.

Nervous System

Abnormalities in your digestive system’s nerves can cause you to experience greater than normal discomfort.

This happens when the abdomen stretches from gas or stool.

Moreover, poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines cause your body to overreact to changes that normally happen in your digestive process.

This results in pain, diarrhea, or constipation.

Also, if you have IBS, the nerves in your gut are extremely sensitive, and the brain processes these signals from your gut differently than it would if you did not have IBS.

Even small amounts of gas can trigger pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhea.

Changes in the Gut Microbe

Gut microbiota plays important role in the maintenance of gut homeostasis by direct bacteriocidal effects and the evolution of both innate and adaptive immune systems.

Moreover, the gut microbiota is thought to play important role in the pathogenesis of IBS.

gut microbesThis is evident from the fact that IBS occurs more frequently after intestinal infection or antibiotics treatment.

Studies have shown that alterations of the intestinal microbiota are observed in IBS patients.

For instance, changes in the bacteria, fungi, or viruses that normally live in the intestines play a key role in maintaining your health.

Early Life Stress

Early childhood is a critical period for development, and early life stress may also increase the risk of gastrointestinal diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, IBS.

Chronic exposure to adverse life events, like poverty and lack of parental care, can cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Thus, people who are exposed to stressful events especially during childhood tend to develop IBS.

Signs and Symptoms of IBS

The signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, and gas.

Moreover, you might also have constipation and diarrhea.

It is not uncommon for people to have both episodes of diarrhea and constipation if they have IBS.

However, symptoms like bloating and gas usually go away after you have a bowel movement.

It is important to note that the signs and symptoms of IBS are not always persistent and they resolve, but they recur again.

In some cases, people might have continuous symptoms.

symptoms of irritable bowel syndromeSymptoms of IBS in Women
Women may have symptoms around the time of menstruation or during this time.

Moreover, women who have reached Menopause, have fewer symptoms than those who have periods. In some cases, the signs and symptoms may also increase during pregnancy.

Symptoms of IBS in Men
The symptoms of IBS are the same as that in women, however, most report fewer symptoms and seek medical treatment.

Moreover, some researchers suggest that due to hormonal differences, the male gut may be less sensitive to the symptoms of IBS

While others think the men avoid seeking medical help.

Diagnosis of IBS

There is no definite diagnosis of IBS, and your doctor or healthcare provider is likely to start with complete medical history.

Moreover, to diagnose IBS, physical examination and different tests can help to rule out other conditions like Celiac Disease.

After your doctor rules out other conditions, they will like to use one of the following sets for IBS.

diagnosis of irritable bowel syndromeThese are:

  1. Room Criteria
  2. Type of IBS

Room Criteria:  This includes abdominal pain and discomfort that lasts for at least a day a week during the last 3 months.

Moreover, it is associated with 2 factors: pain and discomfort.

The frequency of defecation is altered or stool consistency is altered.

Type of IBS: For the purpose of treatment is can be divided into 3 types: Constipation-predominant, diarrhea-predominant or mixed.

Assessment of Other Signs and Symptoms

Your doctor or healthcare provider is more likely to assess whether you have other signs or symptoms that might indicate or suggest another or more serious condition.

These signs and symptoms are the onsets of signs and symptoms after the age of 50, weight loss, rectal bleeding, and fever.

Other symptoms are nausea it recurring vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and anemia.

If you have a combination of these signs and symptoms or if an initial treatment for IBS does not work, then they will order the following tests.

Additional Tests

Your doctor or healthcare provider may recommend other tests and these tests include stool tests, X-ray or CT Scan, or upper endoscopy.

Diagnostic procedures include:

1# Colonoscopy: Your doctor will use a small, flexible tube to examine the entire length of your colon.

2# X-ray or CT scan: These tests will produce images of high quality of your abdomen and pelvis that will help your doctor to rule out other causes especially if you have abdominal pain.

Your doctor may also fill your large intestine with a liquid or barium to make any problem more visible.

This barium test is called the Lower GI series.

colonoscopy3# Upper Endoscopy: The doctor or healthcare provider will insert a long flexible tube down your throat and into the tube connecting your mouth and esophagus.

A camera at the end of the tube allows your doctor to inspect the upper digestive tract and also obtain tissue.

This tissue sample or a biopsy from the small intestine and fluid looks for overgrowth of bacteria,

They may also recommend endoscopy if they suspect celiac disease.

Laboratory Tests

Your doctor or healthcare provider may also recommend some laboratory tests. These are as follows:

Lactose Intolerance Tests: Lactose is an enzyme that helps to digest the sugar in dairy products.

If your body is not able to produce lactose, you may have problems similar to IBS, including abdominal pain, gas, and diarrhea.

They may also order a breath test or ask you to remove milk and its related products for several weeks.

additional testsBreath Test for Bacterial Growth: If you have bacterial overgrowth in your intestines, then a breath test can help to identify it.

Moreover, it is common among people who had bowel surgery or have type 1 or type 2 diabetes or other diseases that may slow down the digestion in your body.

Stool Tests: Your stool might also be examined for bacteria or parasites or a digestive liquid procedure in your liver or bile acid in case you have chronic diarrhea.

Treatment Options

Treatment of IBS focuses on relieving the symptoms so that you can have a normal life as much as possible.

Moreover, mild signs and symptoms can be controlled by managing stress and by making different changes in your diet and lifestyle.

Therefore, you should try to avoid foods that tend to trigger your symptoms, eat high-fiber foods, and drink plenty of water.

Moreover, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can help to relieve the symptoms.

Foods to Avoid

Your doctor or healthcare provider will suggest you eliminate the following from your diet:

High-gas foods: In case you experience bloating and gas, you might have to avoid carbonated and alcoholic beverages and certain foods that can lead to an increase in gas.

foods to avoidFODMAPs: Some people are sensitive to carbohydrates like fructose, lactose, and others known as FODMAPs.

These include fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.

Moreover, FODMAPs are found in certain grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products.

Medications for Irritable Bowel Disease

If you have moderate to severe problems, your doctor might recommend counseling especially if you have depression or if stress tends to worsen your symptoms of IBS.

In addition to counseling, they may suggest medications like:

Anti-diarrheal medications: OTC medications like loperamide, can help to control diarrhea.

Your doctor can also prescribe a  bile acid binder like cholestyramine, colestipol, or colesevelam.
This is because bile acid binders can cause bloating.

Laxatives: If fiber does not help to relieve constipation, then they might recommend OTC laxatives like magnesium hydroxide oral or polyethylene glycol.

medications for irritable bowel syndromeFiber Supplements: Supplements like psyllium can helo with fluids to control constipation.

Anticholinergic Medications: Medications like dicyclomine can help relieve painful bowel spasms.

These are for people who have bouts of diarrhea and are generally safe to use.

However, they can cause constipation, dry mouth, or blurred vision.

Tricyclic antidepressants. This medication can help to relieve depression as well as inhibit the activity of neurons that control the intestines to help reduce pain.

However, if you have diarrhea and abdominal pain without depression then they may suggest a low dose of imipramine, desipramine, etc.

Side effects of these medications might reduce if you take them before bedtime, and can include drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness, and dry mouth.

Pain medications. Medications like Pregabalin (Lyrica) or gabapentin (Neurontin) might ease severe pain or bloat.

SSRI antidepressants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, SSRI, antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem) or paroxetine (Paxil), may help if you are depressed and have pain and constipation.

Specific Medications of IBS

Medications specifically approved for certain people with IBS are:

Eluxadoline (Viberzi). It can ease diarrhea by reducing muscle contractions and fluid secretion in the intestine, and increasing muscle tone in the rectum.

However, side effects can include nausea, abdominal pain, and mild constipation.

This medication has also been associated with pancreatitis, which can be serious and more common in certain individuals.

Lubiprostone (Amitiza). Lubiprostone can increase fluid secretion in your small intestine to help with the passage of stool.

It’s approved for women who have IBS with constipation and is generally prescribed only for women with severe symptoms that won’t respond to other treatments.

Alosetron (Lotronex). Alosetron helps to relax the colon and slow the movement of waste through the lower bowel.

It is prescribed only by doctors enrolled in a special program, is intended for severe cases of diarrhea-predominant IBS in women who haven’t responded to other treatments,

Moreover, it is not approved for use by men.

It has been linked to rare but important side effects, so it should only be considered when other treatments aren’t successful.

Rifaximin (Xifaxan). This antibiotic can decrease bacterial overgrowth in your intestines and diarrhea.

Linaclotide (Linzess). Linaclotide also can increase fluid secretion in your small intestine to help you pass stool.

However, it can cause diarrhea, thus, taking the medication 30 to 60 minutes before eating might help.

Home Remedies for People with IBS

Certain changes in your diet and lifestyle often provide relief from IBS. Your body will need time to respond to these changes. Try to:

Experiment with fiber. Fiber helps reduce constipation but also can worsen gas and cramping.

Moreover, try slowly increasing the amount of fiber in your diet over a period of weeks with foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans.

A fiber supplement may cause less gas and bloat than fiber-rich foods.

Avoid problem foods. Eliminate foods that trigger your symptoms.

home remediesEat at regular times. Don’t skip meals, and try to eat at about the same time each day to help regulate bowel function.

If you have diarrhea, you may find that eating small, frequent meals makes you feel better.

however, if you have constipation, then eating larger amounts of high-fiber foods may help move food through your intestines.

Exercise regularly. Exercise helps relieve depression and stress, stimulates normal contractions of your intestines.

Moreover, it can help you feel better about yourself. You can consult your doctor about an exercise program.

Risk Factors

Many people have occasional symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome,  IBS. But you’re more likely to have the syndrome if you:

Are young. IBS occurs more frequently in people under the age of age 50.

Have a family history of IBS. Genes may also play a role, as may share factors in a family’s environment or a combination of genes and environment.

Are female. According to studies, in the United States, IBS is more common among women.

Estrogen therapy before or after menopause also is a risk factor for IBS.

Have anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. A history of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse also might be a risk factor.

Complications of IBS

Chronic or long-term constipation or diarrhea can cause hemorrhoids.

In addition, IBS is associated with:

Mood disorders. Experiencing the signs and symptoms of IBS can lead to depression or anxiety.

Depression and anxiety also can make IBS worse.

Poor quality of life. Many people with moderate to severe IBS report poor quality of life.

Moreover, research indicates that people with IBS miss three times as many days from work as do those without bowel symptoms.

Learn how to help someone with anxiety attacks.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS is a long-term condition and can interfere with your daily life routine, however, it is not life-threatening.

With simple home remedies and avoiding the triggers, you can effectively manage it at home, however, if it can cause a lot of pain and discomfort you should seek medical help from your doctor or healthcare provider.

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