Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Did you know that April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects the function and behaviour of the intestines.  It is synonymous with ‘leaky gut’ or ‘spastic colon.’  While many people only experience mild symptoms, others may experience more severe symptoms that can impact their quality of life and daily work routines.  An estimated 10 to 20 percent of the general population experience IBS symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramping and bloating
  • Watery bowel movements
  • Constipation
  • Switch back and forth between diarrhoea and constipation.

What causes IBS?

The precise cause of IBS isn’t known.  Factors that appear to play a role include:

  • Muscle contractions in the intestine
  • Abnormalities in the nerves in your digestive system
  • Develop after a severe bout of gastroenteritis caused by bacteria or a virus
  • Changes in gut microbes, including bacterial overgrowth
  • Stressful life events, especially during childhood

Symptoms of IBS can be triggered by:

  • The role of food allergy or intolerance in IBS isn’t fully understood. A true food allergy rarely causes IBS, but many people have worse IBS symptoms when they eat or drink certain foods or beverages.
  • Most people with IBS experience worse or more-frequent signs and symptoms during periods of increased stress, but while stress may aggravate symptoms, it doesn’t cause them.

Treatment of IBS

IBS cannot be cured; however, you can manage the condition.  Some people can control their symptoms by managing their diet, lifestyle and stress.  People with more-severe symptoms may require medication.