What causes irritable bowel syndrome?

There is no exact cause for irritable bowel syndrome, but a variety of factors play a role. With irritable bowel syndrome, the contractions of intestines may be stronger and last longer than normal, causing gas, bloating and diarrhea. Or the opposite may occur, with weak intestinal contractions slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools.
 
Abnormalities in the gastrointestinal nervous system also may play a role, causing one to experience greater than normal discomfort when the abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can make your body overreact to the changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This overreaction can cause pain, diarrhea or constipation.
 
Common triggers include:
 
  • Foods. Patients with food allergy or intolerance in irritable bowel syndrome have more severe symptoms when they eat certain things. 
  • Stress. Most people with IBS find that their signs and symptoms are worse or more frequent during periods of increased stress.
  • Hormones. Because women are twice as likely to have IBS, researchers believe that hormonal changes play a role in this condition. 
  • Other illnesses. Sometimes another illness, such as an acute episode of infectious diarrhea (gastroenteritis) or too many bacteria in the intestines (bacterial overgrowth), can trigger IBS.
 
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes
 

Sources
  • "Irritable Bowel Syndrome." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 31 July 2014. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
  • "Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)." National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
  • "Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms & Treatment." Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic, 20 Jan. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

 

From Our Blog: Life's Most Common Stressors & Cures
When stress starts to compromise our emotions and health, it’s time to pump the brakes and map out a new course. The following infographic lays out some of life’s most common sources of stress. In addition, you will find simple yet practical tips to help steer clear of these pitfalls, or develop a healthier relationship with those you can’t avoid:
 
life's most common stressors and cures infographic

 

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