Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Do We Know the Cause?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  One Cause?  Many Causes?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Do We Know The Cause?Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS for short, is an annoying disease which interferes to a greater or lesser degree with the lives of many patients living in large cities such as Los Angeles.  The symptoms can interfere with the activities of daily living.  The patterns of our lives begin to center around our symptoms rather than around our normal activities.

There are triggers that affect some patients and not others.  What are they?

First, What Are The Symptoms?

To understand IBS, you must first know a little about the anatomy and physiology of the intestinal tract.  A proctologist, or colon and rectal surgeon, can explain the anatomy and physiology of the intestinal tract and how they relates to IBS.  The proctologist can also help you be sure that your symptoms are only caused by IBS, and not another diagnosis.

The intestinal tract is a long muscular tube designed to absorb nutrients from our food and pass the waste down to the rectum for discharge at a convenient time.  There are several layers of muscles surrounding our gut.  These muscles contract in a coordinated and rhythmic fashion.  The rhythm allows enough time for our food to remain in contact with the intestinal lining, also known as the mucosa, before pushing the food forward.  And, therein is the problem with those experiencing the symptoms of IBS.

Diarrhea and Constipation.  Opposite Ends of The Spectrum.

When the intestine loses its coordinated muscular ability to propel food forward, trouble begins.

In diarrhea-predominant IBS, the contractions are much stronger than normal and they last for a longer period of time.  The result?  Diarrhea, as food is moved quickly and forcefully forward.  Normal digestion time is shortened and stool remains liquid.

In constipation-predominant disease, the passage of food is slowed as the muscles fail to contract often enough.  The result?  Infrequent, hard and dry bowel movements, with bloating and gas, causing the bowel to stretch uncomfortably.

Why Does IBS Begin?  The Triggers.

Although it is not known what causes IBS,  theories include:

  • A past infection
  • An imbalance in the neurotransmitter serotonin.
  • An imbalance in our intestinal bacteria.
  • A past toxin ingestion

There are 3 common triggers that seem to begin the symptoms:

  • Food.  Carbonated drinks, some fruits or vegetables and fiber may set off a round of bloating and diarrhea.  Chocolate is thought to also contribute to the symptoms of IBS.  It is important not to confuse the symptoms of lactose intolerance or sugar (fructose) overload with the symptoms of IBS.
  • Stress.  Stress causes the release of powerful hormones, many of which will trigger a round of symptoms.
  • Hormones.  Hormones, even in normal quantities, can cause IBS to flare.  Many women report a flare up of IBS symptoms during different time of their menstrual cycle.

Los Angeles Colon And Rectal Surgical Associates.

Just because you have a problem whose cause is not known, does not mean that it cannot be controlled.  The surgeons of Los Angeles Colon And Rectal Surgical Associates are board certified and well trained in the diagnosis and treatment of IBS.  A telephone call to (310)273-2310 will enable you to make an appointment to see one of the physicians and begin the path to controlling this annoying and uncomfortable illness.