So, what are the Irritable Bowel syndrome causes? Well, the simple answer is we just don’t know what triggers your symptoms.
There are various hypotheses put forwards for IBS causes, but none of these have been confirmed for sure. I do believe they are certainly implicated in the pathogenesis of the disease, but I think science had only just scratched the surface when it comes to causes.
I will outline some of these hypotheses below for you.
First all, we know that you can either be constipated or have diarrhea or both. If you have constipation, the motility of the bowel reduces so stool just isn't passed through the bowel fast enough.
If you have diarrhea the opposite occurs, when the stool passes through quicker. Why should this be? Well, it really still needs researching further, but we know that psychology has a significant affect on the bowel.
If you are stressed or depressed this could be an issue. It’s embroiled in the Brain-Gut theory which I will outline below. I think it is one of the most important keys to unlocking future treatments.
We know the actual mechanisms for absorption of nutrients from the bowel are unaffected, so problems with nutritional deficiencies and drug absorption don’t occur with this condition.
If you are displaying such features, the diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is unsafe and other causes need to be considered.
Women often worry that Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes problems with their oral contraceptive pill, but this just isn't true as absorption is unaffected.
It is true that sufferers have increased awareness of bowel symptoms and it is this issue that’s likely to make your symptoms worse.
What is true is the awareness a suffer has with these symptoms and it is this issue that is likely to make symptoms worse.
So we know that the “transit” of stool is either increased or decreased. We also know that the gut is extra sensitive to the foods that you eat, but the reasons behind this are not clear.
The bowel is also sensitive to the signals from the brain and this results in a detrimental effect on the bowel too.
There is an intimate link between IBS and psychology. They have commonly been linked and you can learn more about this and other psychology related Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes by going to the psychology page.
How many times have you found your bowels upset when you are under stress? A lot is the answer! Well, psychology definitely has a significant effect on the bowel whether you have IBS or not.
Studies have shown that up to 50% of sufferers have an underlying psychological problem including anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
What's happening in the mind is having a detrimental effect on symptoms that are already present rather than ‘it’s all in the mind’.
Have you ever wondered why your symptoms don’t occur at night? Well, this theory may go some way to explaining this fact.
If you are experiencing night time symptoms, I really would question whether you actually have the condition or not. In my experience, IBS causes daytime not night time symptoms although there are no absolutes with this.
Psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants may help. You can read more about antidepressants.
A classic example of hormone influence on the bowel is seen during pregnancy. Hormones exert an effect on the bowel. We know in pregnancy that constipation is common and thought to be hormonally induced.
Oestrogen does certainly have an effect on your bowel as we know that symptoms are often heightened around the time of a woman’s period. Oestrogen in some oral contraceptive pills can worsen IBS symptoms and also linked with migraine as previously discussed.
Hormones in excess, such as Thyroxine or thyroid hormone seen in an over active thyroid, can cause diarrhea. Equally, lack of certain hormones such as the thyroid hormone or steroids can cause diarrhea symptoms too.
So, hormones clearly have a roll in gut function. If you are taking the oral contraceptive pill, you might like to discuss with your doctor whether the hormone is one the reasons why your Irritable Bowel syndrome causes you so many problems.
Learn about gluten sensitivity and gluten allergy symptoms which normally get confused as the same condition by going to the gluten allergy symptoms page.
Gluten in Irritable Bowel syndrome causes symptoms to be worse in some sufferers. Gluten, a protein in wheat, rye and barley has an effect on the small bowel and can lead to diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers are often sensitive to gluten and avoiding it does improve symptoms in a lot of sufferers. Coeliac disease, a condition where the small bowel lining is damaged by gluten, is often mistaken for IBS too.
We know that some people develop IBS after a gastroenteritis illness. This is known as IBS-PI or post-infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome and is a common form of IBS.
Theories have been put forward for an infective cause in view of this. Certainly we know in small bowel bacterial overgrowth, where the small bowel is populated by inappropriate bacteria (the so called bad bacteria) and symptoms are similar.
Probiotics in Irritable Bowel syndrome are said to work by replacing these bacteria with “good bacteria” and some sufferers find them very beneficial to their symptoms.
No one actually knows the full cause of your stomach pain, but the main recurring issue with all Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes is the pain and change in bowel habit.
Doctors call this “increased visceral sensitivity”, but what does this really mean? It means your gut is hypersensitive for some reason.
One theory is that the gut is intimately linked with the brain and there is good evidence for this. The so called brain-gut axis hypothesis works on the theory that your brain is stimulated by smell, sight, touch, hearing and this creates feelings.
We know that when you have feelings of stress, regardless of whether your bowel is “normal” or not, you tend to develop abdominal symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain.
This occurs when the brain processes the senses and then sends messages down the spinal cord to the gut.
In the case of your Irritable Bowel Syndrome, there are either abnormal increased signals to the gut or the gut has increased sensitivity to them resulting in the gut spasms and chronic stomach pain you experience.
This is a two way theory, as foods that can trigger your IBS can equally have an effect on the gut nerves sending signals to the brain with the resulting cramping pains that you experience.
It’s a good theory for stomach pain which holds some weight in my opinion.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes lots of problems when your diet isn't quite right. An IBS diet is really important to a lot of sufferers and I would encourage you to read more by going to the diet page to find out how IBS causes problems when diet isn't quite right.
We all know diet has an effect on the bowel and causes symptoms to either improve or triggers problems. This is a big topic and one that I believe is very important in Irritable Bowel Syndrome treatment.
So, now you understand that there are a lot of theories to the underlying Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes. Although the full cause is unknown, I’m sure these theories will now be familiar to you too.