Since the roost cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is still a mystery to western medical science, scientists have resorted to observing certain mental and physical health problems that seem to cause IBS. They believe that the some of the probable causes of IBS include:
Sensitivity to certain foods – IBS sufferers usually report that certain drinks and foods cause them symptoms of IBS. These include alcohol and coffee and fatty foods, spicy foods and carbohydrates. However, not all people with sensitivity to specific foods show typical signs and symptoms of food allergy. Scientists believe that symptoms can show if the person suffers from bile acid or sugar mal-absorption which prevents the breaking down of fats that should lead to easy emptying of waste materials in the body.
Genetics – Statistics have revealed that people with a family history of IBS do have a high likelihood for developing this disease. Still researchers debate if the people in question have the IBS because of GI symptoms or of environmental factors.
Body chemicals – Clinical tests from people with IBS have revealed that IBS sufferers have abnormal levels of neurotransmitters and gastrointestinal hormones in their body although researchers still do not know what role these neurotransmitters and hormones play in the development of IBS. Postmenopausal women show lesser IBS symptoms than women who are still menstruating, and women who are menstruating show more symptoms than those who are not menstruating. This observation may mean that hormones dealing with reproduction can have a role in worsening IBS symptoms
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth – Or SIBO, for short. This is a condition where the small intestine has a larger-than-normal number of bacteria or has a different type of bacteria than the ones normally residing in it. These bacteria can affect the function of the small intestine and result in a person’s weight loss, excess gas in the stomach or diarrhea. Some experts think that SIBO can result in IBS but results of their studies are inconclusive showing the link between small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and IBS.
Bacterial gastroenteritis – The connection between bacterial gastroenteritis and the development of IBS is highly suspected but researchers are baffled why some people with bacterial gastroenteritis develop IBS while some do not. Some of the researchers believe additional factors like problems in the lining of the GI tract or psychological stress problems can bring about IBS in people with bacterial gastroentieritis.
Mental health issues – Mental problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety or panic disorder can result in IBS in some people. As of now there are still no clear cut links that can be cited between these problems and the rise of IBS. People who have undergone past sexual or physical abuse often suffer from specific GI problems like IBS.
Hypersensitivity – Low pain intolerance when the anus is stretched from the passing of stool or gas are experienced by people who have IBS compared to people who don’t have IBS. Scientists suspect that those with IBS have a different way in processing pain signals from the bowel than those not suffering from IBS.
Gastrointestinal motor issues – People with IBS are suspected to have either slower or faster than normal movement of their gastrointestinal tract particularly in the movement in their colon. Slow movement can result in constipation while fast movement can result in diarrhea. People with IBS also suffer from severe muscle contractions or spasms in their GI system. The can also suffer from too much contractions of the bowel because of excessive stress or eating.
Brain-gut communication issues – The function of the intestines are normal when there is good communication signal between the brain and the nerves of the large and small intestines. Bad signals traveling between these nerves and the brain can result in GI dysfunctions like IBS.
Scott Paglia is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist in Bellingham, WA and provides master level pulse diagnosis, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Whatcom County, WA.