IBS is a "functional" bowel disorder: a problem caused by changes in how the gut works, and the most common symptoms are:2-4
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Diarrhoea or constipation (or a combination of both)
IBS affects 15% of people around the world.1
The causes of IBS are not well understood, but researchers believe a combination of physical and mental health problems lead to IBS.5
One of the causes of IBS put forward by researchers is a "dysfunction of the brain-gut axis" (BGA). Hidden in the walls of your gut is your “second brain” and the two brains talk to each other.6 Therefore, the BGA links the emotional and cognitive thought centres of the brain with the GI tract. A "dysfunction" of the BGA results in a breakdown of normal digestive function and this leads to diarrhoea or constipation.6
This "dysfunction’"can be caused by a number of things such as diet and lifestyle changes, including stress and anxiety which are classified as major triggers of IBS. Stress and anxiety also disrupt the signals between the brain and the gut and impact on the efficacy of the digestive system.7
Having covered the possible causes of IBS and what it is, it is important to note that IBS symptoms differ from person to person, so what you really need to do is connect the dots to find out what your personal triggers are. Start by clicking here to download a Trigger Diary specifically designed for IBS sufferers.
Unfortunately, IBS cannot be cured, but with careful planning it can be managed. The road to controlling your IBS starts with TRACKING your symptoms (i.e. identifying what triggers your IBS), then ACTING on it by talking to your Doctor about your symptoms and triggers and finally by MANAGING your IBS through careful diet and lifestyle changes and stress control measures.
See www.stressandmystomach.co.za for more information on how to control and better manage your IBS..
References. 1. IFFGD (International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders) “Facts about IBS” About IBS Website. Stable URL: https://www.aboutibs.org/site/what-is-ibs/facts/. 2. Quigley E, Gwee KA, Olano C, et al. Irritable bowel syndrome: a global perspective. World Gastroenterology Organization Global Guideline. April 20, 2009. 1-20. 3. Longstreth GF, Thompson WG, Chey WD, et al. Functional bowel disorders. Gastroenterology 2006; 130: 1480-1491. 4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Triggers and Prevention. Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on July 04, 2012© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. Available at http://www.webmd.com/ibs/guide/ ibs-triggers-prevention-strategies. Accessed 6 March 2014. 5. National Institute Of Diabetes And Digestive And Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Available at http://digestive.niddk.nih. gov/ddiseases/pubs/ibs/ibs_508.pdf. Accessed on 12 November 2013. 6. Prins A. Review Article: The brain-gut interaction: the conversation and the implications. S Afr J Clin Nutr 2011; 24(3) Supplement: 8-14. 7. Hungin AP, Chang L, Locke GR, Dennis EH, Barghout V. Irritable bowel syndrome in the United States: prevalence, symptom patterns and impact. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Jun 1;21(11):1365-1375.
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