Q: Why do I have irritable bowel syndrome?

A: People with constipation or IBS suffer from frequent abdominal pain associated with diarrhea, constipation, or both.

There may not be a single reason why a person may develop IBS, which is about 15 percent of the American adult population. Instead, different triggers in different people can cause problems in the brain-gut connection. When the smooth communication between the brain and gut is disrupted, it changes how people’s guts move, as well as how they perceive and process pain – ultimately leading to the symptoms we call IBS.

Here are a few reasons why you might have IBS.

We harbor trillions of microbes in our gut, known as the microbiome, that influence our health. One of the most important influences on our microbiome is our diet, and many people with IBS experience a worsening of their symptoms after eating certain foods, such as milk or certain fruits.

In IBS, people They lose some beneficial bacteria as a Lactobacillus And, in turn, find some problems. Research shows that making dietary changes to avoid trigger foods can improve Symptoms of IBS They also change the microbiome.

The most common risk factor for IBS is gastroenteritis, or acute intestinal infection, which causes a few days of bad diarrhea and vomiting. Studies have been found The infection can cause long-term inflammation in the intestines, leading to IBS. After the virus or bacteria has left the system, that damage remains.

Everyone is incredibly loud at recess.

Gastroenterologists are investigating whether Covid-19 is linked to IBS. In one study, approx Half of the covid patients Initially, gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. People one year after being infected with covid They have high rates IBS if you don’t have covid.

During the epidemic’s evolution, there were several factors at play to trigger IBS besides the virus: the psychological stress of illness (and living in an epidemic) and various drugs, including steroids often used during treatment, can affect the microbiome. .

IBS is usually a lifelong condition. But with IBS, which occurs after an acute infection, most people can wait. Slow recovery After months or years.

Major life concerns go hand in hand IBS – symptom intensityAnd people who have experienced traumatic life events are more likely to develop IBS.

Popular studies on mice show that from A Mother in infancy Also by practicing Irritation in the colon Soon after birth, it can cause changes in the nerve cells that control pain in the gut in adults.

Emotional, physical or sexual trauma early in life It can predict the development of IBS, especially for women. Traumatic events in adulthood also increase your risk.

Research shows that if you have a close relative with IBS, such as a sibling or parent Increased chance Living with IBS yourself. There is also genetic data to support the idea that IBS is partly sex-related: Women are more vulnerable than men.

But genetic research is beginning to unravel the mystery of which genes play a key role in why IBS occurs. Several studies have identified subtle differences in the genes responsible for serotonin and its signaling pathways. Sometimes called the “feel-good” hormone, most of the substance serotonin is found in the gut, where it regulates bowel movements, fluids and emotions.

As other large studies have shown Mood disorders share a genetic origin with IBS. – And medications that are commonly thought of as antidepressants or anti-depressants can help with IBS symptoms.

A The latest hypothesis Brennan Spiegel, a gastroenterologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, suggests that gravity — or rather, the inability to control our bodies — may be the unifying problem behind IBS. The idea is that Homo sapiens evolved to compensate for the gravity around us.

For example, our intestines are not crammed in a big pile under our stomach by accident. Instead, the body has a system of connective tissue ligaments that hold to gravity in an organized array, allowing smooth passage and processing of nutrients.

But for some people, according to Spiegel, those restraint systems are prone to being overwhelmed. When this happens, in theory, kinks occur that block the flow of stool, and can lead to bacterial overgrowth and increased nerve sensitivity in the gut. This may be part of why using our body’s natural anchors — such as yoga and other forms of exercise — are helpful in treating IBS.

There is no single cure for IBS. Discussing possible triggers can sometimes help your doctor treat your condition, with medication, brain-gut psychotherapy, or changes in your diet.

As a gastroenterologist, I know how reluctant people are to discuss their bowel with a stranger. But believe me, we’ve heard them all. And while the reason you have IBS may be out of your control, it’s important to take the first steps to get the help you need.

Meet the Doctor: Trisha S. Pasricha is a gastroenterologist and medical journalist at Massachusetts General Hospital Neurology Center.

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