Published On: March 15, 2022Categories: General

Introduction to IBS – What You Need To Know

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that happen together. These symptoms include pain in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movements, which could be diarrhea, constipation, or both at the same time. If you have IBS, there are no signs of damage or disease in your digestive tract.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that impairs the digestive process. When your brain and your gut do not work well together, you have functional GI disorders, which doctors now call disorders of how your brain and your gut work together. You might be more sensitive to things in your gut because of these problems. They might also change how your bowel moves. As a result, you might have more abdominal pain and gas. Changes in how the muscles in your bowel work can cause diarrhea, constipation, or both, depending on how well they work.

IBS Causes & Risk Factors for Developing the Condition

The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not known. Sometimes it comes on after a long bout of diarrhea, but there is not a specific event in many cases. Researchers think there may be some connection between problems with gut motility, pain, inflammation, and how the brain and the gut “talk.”

Genetics, bad life experiences, and mental health problems may make someone more likely to get IBS. Stress, hormones released during the menstrual cycle, smoking, and a poor diet could also cause or make IBS symptoms worse.

As a whole, researchers are looking into many different things that might be different between people who have IBS and people who do not. These are motility, visceral hypersensitivity, inflammation, and bacteria in the gut.

  • Motility

Motility is the movement of digestive smooth muscle. The movement speed in the colon and small intestine of people with IBS has been studied, although the findings are mixed. For example, some people with diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D) have quick muscle contractions, whereas others with constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C) have sluggish muscle contractions (IBS-C).

  • Visceral Hypersensitivity

Visceral hypersensitivity causes increased pain in the body’s internal organs. Studies have indicated that many IBS patients report rectum discomfort at a different threshold than non-IBS individuals. This disparity in pain perception may be due to gut nerves being over-sensitized to stimulation.

  • Inflammation

IBS is not characterized by evident inflammation. However, even if it is not evident in regular diagnostic tests, it may still be present. According to new research, some people with IBS may have low-grade chronic inflammation at the cellular level. This inflammation is suspected to be linked to post-infectious IBS, which occurs after an episode of gastroenteritis (IBS-PI).

  • Gut Bacteria

The intricate nature of gut bacteria is better understood when microorganisms are categorized as “good” (like probiotics) or “bad” (bacteria associated with infection and inflammation). The study of gut bacteria has shown a difference between IBS patients and non-IBS patients in terms of bacterial composition. In addition, the involvement of bacteria in the small intestine as a factor in IBS has received particular attention (SIBO).

  • The Brain-Gut Connection

The enteric nervous system is a nerve network that controls digestion and communicates with the brain. This relationship is evident under stress. There is evidence that gut-brain connections are dysfunctional in IBS symptoms such as motility disruption and visceral hypersensitivity. As a result of this imbalance, persons with IBS typically experience relief from symptoms while taking antidepressants that target certain neurotransmitters.

  • Hormones

Females suffer more from IBS than males, which shows that hormonal swings play a role in developing the illness. Consequently, many women claim that their IBS symptoms are worse during or around their menstrual cycles.

  • Genetics

IBS seems to have a hereditary component since it runs in families. Recent research in Gastroenterology found that some persons with IBS had a genetic abnormality (mutation) in the SCN5A gene. When this mutation is present, a gut function is disrupted. The original investigation discovered this gene mutation in 2.2% of IBS patients. A genome-wide association analysis later validated these findings.

  • Lifestyle Risk Factors

Stress is known to cause real damage. The body’s stress reaction may indeed influence IBS growth (as is evident with the brain-gut connection). IBS, primarily caused by post-infectious enteritis, is more often caused by worry and despair. Uncertainty surrounds whether a hectic lifestyle causes IBS rather than just exacerbating symptoms. Smoking, drinking, obesity, inactivity, and a poor diet exacerbate IBS symptoms. Lifestyle changes may help avoid relapses.

The Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

There is presently no test available to diagnose IBS.

If you have celiac disease, your doctor will typically begin by taking a comprehensive medical history, doing a physical exam, and ordering tests to rule out other possible causes.

After all other possibilities have been ruled out, your doctor is likely to utilize one of the following sets of diagnostic criteria to rule out irritable bowel syndrome:

Rome criterion. These criteria include stomach pain and discomfort lasting on average at least one day a week in the past three months, connected with at least two factors: Pain and discomfort are associated with feces, the frequency of defecation is changed, or stool consistency is affected.

Type of IBS. IBS may be split into three kinds for therapy, depending on your symptoms: constipation-predominant, diarrhea-predominant, or mixed.

Your doctor will also likely check if you have any signs or symptoms that imply another, more severe, ailment. These signs and symptoms include:

  • The onset of indications and symptoms beyond age 50
  • Weight loss
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fever
  • Nausea or recurrent vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort, particularly if it is not tied to a bowel movement or happens at night
  • Diarrhea that is persistent or wakes you from sleep
  • Anemia due to low iron

Treatment Options for IBS

Treatment of IBS focuses on treating symptoms to live as normally as possible. Mild indications and symptoms may typically be addressed by controlling stress and making adjustments in your diet and lifestyle. Try to:

Avoid items that trigger your symptoms

  • Eat high-fiber meals
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get adequate sleep

Your doctor could propose that you remove from your diet:

  • High gas foods: If you have bloating or gas, you can avoid products such as carbonated and alcoholic drinks and certain meals that may contribute to increased gas.
  • Gluten: Research reveals that some patients with IBS experience relief in diarrhea symptoms if they quit consuming gluten (wheat, barley, and rye) even if they do not have celiac disease.
  • FODMAPs: Some individuals are sensitive to specific carbohydrates such as fructose, fructans, lactose, and others, known as FODMAPs — fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAPs are present in cereals, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products.