What causes IBS?


Quick Answer

According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse and Mayo Clinic, it is not well-known what causes irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Factors that can trigger IBS symptoms are physical and mental. They include anxiety and panic disorder, bacterial gastroenteritis, sensitivity to certain types of food and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

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Full Answer

IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that, according to the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons, may affect over 15 percent of the general population. The symptoms of IBS include changes in bowel habits and abdominal pain, such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, bloating, passing of stools with mucous and a feeling of incomplete bowel movements. ASCRS also encourages patients who experience anemia, rectal bleeding and unexplained weight loss to seek help immediately because IBS does not cause these symptoms.

Mayo Clinic notes that treatments for IBS usually focus on relieving symptoms since it is not known what exactly causes IBS. Avoiding gluten, gas-inducing foods and certain carbohydrates such as lactose and fructose may help. Medications for IBS symptoms include fiber supplements, Imodium, Levsin and Xifaxan. Lotronex and Amitiza are two drugs currently approved for treating IBS. According ACRS, IBS does not lead to more severe conditions such as ulcerative colitis or cancer.

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