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A Look at the Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


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Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a condition that affects as many as 20% of the population and is reported to be the most common, chronic disorder in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia. While there is no cure for the condition, researchers are making great strides in understanding IBS and discovering better treatment options for those suffering from the troublesome condition.

Before the causes of IBS can be understood, it is important to learn the signs and symptoms of the disorder, which can range from the mild and bothersome to the severe and debilitating. The “Rome III Guidelines” refer to a series of criteria used to gauge whether or not a patient is in fact suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

This particular diagnostic system indicates that reoccurring abdominal pain or discomfort should be present for at least three days of the month in conjunction with two or more of the following; improvement in the condition after defecation, and the onset of symptoms are associated with a change in either the frequency or the form or appearance of the stool.

The Rome III criteria also states that for a correct diagnosis of IBS the patient must have experienced symptoms of the disorder for at least the last three months, along with another six months of symptoms prior to diagnosis. This helpful system is to rule out other underlying causes that may be more serious such as bowel obstructions, diverticulosis, and even some types of cancer.

Scientists have discovered that for reasons which are still largely unknown, the digestive systems including the colons of some people are far more sensitive than others. People afflicted with IBS react differently to certain things that wouldn’t ordinarily bother those without the disorder. While the exact causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are still open for debate, doctors have made a number of discoveries that are enabling patients to control the severity and frequency of their condition.

IBS is classified as a “functioning disorder” which refers to a condition where the normal functioning of the body is compromised or hindered in some way. For some reason the functioning of the brain in relationship to controlling the nerves and movement of the intestines is compromised.

Stress has also been shown to play a role in IBS in some patients. Stressors or tension can cause symptoms to appear or even make those already present considerably worse. Although the disorder affects both men and women, women report experiencing symptoms that are more severe during their menstrual cycles. This leads doctors to speculate on the role that hormonal changes may play in affecting IBS.

Diet is perhaps believed to be the leading cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome although many people are misinformed as to the best foods to eat for this type of condition. For instance, it was common for people suffering from IBS to be told to eat more bran and raw vegetable for fiber; however, this can actually trigger the condition and make the symptoms worse for some people. Foods categorized as stimulants or irritants of the GI tract are those that are high in fat, caffeine and insoluble fibers. Coffee, even if it’s decaffeinated, carbonated beverages and alcohol can all affect the nerves and muscles of your colon and intestines, which in turn causes IBS.

Another suspected cause of IBS is due to the stretching of the colon from excessive gas. The nerves in the colon can become overly sensitive if the bowel is stretched farther than normal from bloating due to gas. This can then cause considerable cramping and pain in the abdominal area.

By learning the causes or triggers of IBS it’s possible to effectively control or even eliminate the symptoms you may experience. The intensity and frequency of IBS can vary widely from person to person, but once you’ve pinpointed what seems to cause the onset of your symptoms you can learn to avoid these irritants and find a more effective way of dealing with IBS.

For more information on what causes irritable bowel syndrome , try visiting Conquer IBS (, a popular website that provides tips, advice and resources on preventing IBS symptoms through proper dieting.


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