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Are you tired of battling recurring digestive issues that impact your daily life? You're not alone! 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a gut disorder affecting millions worldwide!

In this blog post, we'll delve into the facts about IBS, exploring its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and management strategies.

So, grab yourself a cup of tea, relax, and let's explore all things IBS together.

So, what actually is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder primarily affecting the large intestine or colon.

It is characterised by a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

You might be wondering, what causes IBS? 

While the exact cause of IBS remains unclear, research suggests that abnormalities in gut-brain communication, an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, and altered intestinal function may contribute to its development [1].

However, more research is needed to uncover the exact causes of IBS.

Read more about causes of IBS here.

How is IBS diagnosed?

Accurate diagnosis of IBS involves a thorough evaluation by your healthcare professional. 

When you visit your healthcare professional, they'll dig into your medical history, give you a physical check-up, and maybe even run some tests to rule out any other nasties. They use a tool called the Rome IV criteria to figure out if your symptoms match the IBS profile [2].

Maintaining a symptom journal can also be helpful before seeing your Doctor or Dietitian, as it allows you to track patterns and provide valuable information about your food and bowel habits to help create a plan for you and your symptoms [3].

Unmasking Your Triggers 

Let’s talk triggers!

Often IBS symptoms stem from the digestion of foods that are high in fermentable carbohydrates, called FODMAPs.

While triggers of IBS can vary among individuals, certain lifestyle and dietary factors have commonly been associated with worsening symptoms!

Some basic lifestyle habits that may make your IBS worse:

Identifying personal food triggers is crucial for effectively managing your symptoms! This can be done with the help of a specialist Dietitian. 

Managing Your IBS Like A Boss

Now, let's talk about taking control of your IBS like a total boss. Although there's no magic cure for IBS, various strategies can help manage and alleviate symptoms, and improve your overall quality of life. 

Lifestyle modifications can play such a huge role in symptom control. I’m talking about stress management techniques such as:

These can all have a positive impact on IBS symptoms [4]. 

Eating a balanced diet is also an important contributor to symptom relief.

Some individuals find relief by adopting a low FODMAP diet, which involves reducing specific carbohydrates that can trigger symptoms [5], however, this should only be done under the guidance of a specialist Dietitian

To fine-tune your strategy, team up with a healthcare professional and registered dietitian who can help you customise your dietary changes to your unique needs.

Medications like antispasmodics or laxatives may be prescribed to target specific symptoms also, but again, it's crucial to work closely with your healthcare team and specialist Dietitian to determine the most suitable approach for your unique needs [6].

Staying Positive On Your IBS Journey

We know that dealing with a chronic condition like IBS can feel like a real challenge. But please remember, you're never alone in this journey! 

Reach out to your squad — family, friends, and even online communities where you can connect with fellow warriors who truly get what you're going through.

Sharing experiences, tips, and coping strategies can be a game-changer in managing the ups and downs of living with IBS. 

So, put on that smile, stay proactive, and make self-care your superpower on this IBS journey and don’t forget to reach out to your healthcare team and Dietitian to support you along the way!

Check out our library of resources created by our specialist Dietitian to help you on your journey to IBS freedom.

More Information

References

  1. Chey, W. D., Kurlander, J., & Eswaran, S. (2015). Irritable bowel syndrome: a clinical review. JAMA, 313(9), 949-958.
  2. Lacy, B. E., Mearin, F., Chang, L., Chey, W. D., Lembo, A. J., Simren, M., & Spiller, R. (2016). Bowel disorders. Gastroenterology, 150(6), 1393-1407.
  3. Palsson, O. S., Whitehead, W. E., van Tilburg, M. A., Chang, L., Chey, W., Crowell, M. D., ... & Lembo, A. (2016). Development and validation of the Rome IV diagnostic questionnaire for adults. Gastroenterology, 150(6), 1481-1491.
  4. Ford, A. C., Quigley, E. M., Lacy, B. E., Lembo, A. J., Saito, Y. A., Schiller, L. R., ... & Moayyedi, P. (2014). Efficacy of prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics in irritable bowel syndrome and chronic idiopathic constipation: systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 109(10), 1547-1561.
  5. Staudacher, H. M., Whelan, K., & Irving, P. M. (2014). Lactose intolerance and the low-FODMAP diet. The Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 29(3), 165-168.
  6. Chey, W. D., & Kurlander, J. (2015). Efficacy of the low FODMAP diet for treating irritable bowel syndrome: the evidence to date. Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology, 8, 253-261.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects approximately 11% of the global population.

It is characterised by abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel habits, which can significantly impact a person's quality of life.

Despite being a common condition, the exact cause of IBS is not fully understood. However, researchers have made significant strides in recent years in identifying the potential causes of IBS.

In this post, we will explore the 7 causes of IBS, based on the latest research.

1. Gut Microbiota Dysbiosis

Dysbiosis refers to an imbalance in the gut bacteria, or microbiota.

The first cause of IBS is said to be the disrupted balance of the gut microbiota which is a collection of microorganisms that reside in the human gut. Dysbiosis, or alterations in the gut microbiota, may play a role in the development of IBS.

Studies have shown that patients with IBS have a less diverse gut microbiota compared to healthy individuals.

Additionally, changes in the abundance of specific bacteria, such as increased levels of Methanobrevibacter smithii and decreased levels of Bifidobacterium, have been observed in patients with IBS (1).

2. Intestinal Inflammation

Intestinal inflammation has been identified as the second potential cause of IBS.

Studies have shown that patients with IBS have increased levels of inflammatory markers in their blood and stool samples (2).

Additionally, some patients with IBS have been found to have increased intestinal permeability, which may allow harmful substances to enter the bloodstream and trigger an immune response (2).

3. Food Intolerances

The third cause of IBS is prolonged food intolerances. Food intolerances are a common trigger for IBS symptoms.

Certain foods, such as those high in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs), can cause digestive discomfort in some individuals.

A low FODMAP diet has been shown to improve symptoms in patients with IBS (3).

4. Infection and Parasites

In some cases, IBS can be triggered by an infection or parasite in the gut. This is known as post-infectious IBS (PI-IBS). This is the fourth cause of IBS.

Studies have shown that individuals who develop PI-IBS after an infection may have changes in the gut microbiota, increased intestinal permeability, and immune activation (4).

5. Psychological Triggers

Psychological triggers, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, have been identified as potential causes of IBS.

The gut-brain axis is a bidirectional communication system between the central nervous system and the gut. It plays a crucial role in the regulation of gastrointestinal function, including motility, secretion, and immune response (5).

Psychological stress can disrupt the gut-brain axis and lead to the development of IBS symptoms.

Studies have shown that patients with IBS have higher levels of psychological distress compared to healthy individuals (5).

Chronic stress and anxiety can increase intestinal permeability, activate the immune system, and alter the gut microbiota, all of which may contribute to the development of IBS symptoms.

Additionally, depression has been found to be a risk factor for the development of IBS (5).

6. Prolonged Use of Antibiotics

Prolonged use of antibiotics has been associated with the development of IBS.

Antibiotics can alter the gut microbiota, leading to dysbiosis and potentially causing IBS symptoms.

A study found that individuals who had received more then three courses of antibiotics had a significantly increased risk of developing IBS compared to those who had received fewer courses (6).

7. Genetics

Genetics may also play a role in the development of IBS.

Studies have shown that there may be a genetic predisposition to IBS, with certain genetic variants being associated with an increased risk of developing the condition (7).

However, more research is needed to fully understand the genetic factors underlying IBS.

Conclusion

While the exact cause of IBS is not fully understood, researchers have made significant strides in identifying the 7 potential causes of IBS, a common gastrointestinal disorder.

Dysbiosis, intestinal inflammation, food intolerances, infection and parasites, psychological triggers, prolonged use of antibiotics, and genetics have all been identified as potential causes of IBS.

Further research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms behind these potential causes and to develop more effective treatments for this condition.

References

What to do if you have IBS?

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