Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms and Risk Factors

  • Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a disorder of the large intestine that comes with several symptoms, including constipation or diarrhea.
  • Ten to fifteen percent of the world population has IBS, which has no definite actual cause.
  • Your medical history as a child may increase your IBS risk. 

IBS is a common disorder in the large intestine and comes with several symptoms, but no definite actual cause. It is usually diagnosed when symptoms persist longer than six months. 


Belly Discomfort

According to Dr. Eamonn M.M. Quigley, director of the Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders at Houston Methodist Hospital, some IBS patients experience on and off lower abdominal pain with diarrhea or constipation (or both) for a few months. 

World Journal of Gastroenterology report suggests that gut dysbiosis or disturbed intestinal ecology, may be the cause of IBS.

Gastric distress from consuming FODMAPs

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Avocados, lentils, bread, milk, garlic, and soda with high fructose corn syrup contain FODMAPs, a type of carbohydrates that can trigger G.I. symptoms. FODMAPs cause water buildup intestinal tract, according to the Digestive Health Center Nutrition Services of Stanford University Medical Center. FODMAPs are hard to digest and absorb, which may result in fermentation. According to Dr. Quigley, this can lead to gas, which is irritating to sensitive people. 


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According to Dr. Quigley, some IBS patients show body-wide inflammation symptoms that can cause pain in the muscle and joint and disrupt neurotransmitters, causing brain fog and sleep disruption. 

Risk factors

Woman under age 50

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According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, women are at higher risk of IBS than men. Dr. Quigley notes that constipation and bloating are more common to women, while diarrhea is more common in men. The risk for IBS also decreases after people turn 50, which may be caused by hormonal changes or age-related alterations in gut bacteria. 

Unexplained abdominal pain when you were young

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Some IBS sufferers might have experienced functional abdominal pain as children. The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) defines functional abdominal pain as “abdominal pain that cannot be explained by any visible or detectable abnormality after a thorough physical examination and appropriate further testing.”

ACG also notes that almost a quarter of all children with stomach or intestinal complaints have functional abdominal pain. Functional abdominal pain in childhood may result in sensitivity and reaction stimulation in the large intestine. 

Taking a lot of antibiotics when you were a kid

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Trillions of good and bad bacteria thrive in the G.I. These bacteria are essential in digesting hard-to-digest carbohydrates like FODMAPs, and in producing vitamins, like K and B. Having a good balance of gut bacteria is crucial for the immune system to function normally. According to Dr. Quigley, antibiotics can cause changes in the gut microbiome, leading to later development of IBS. 


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The gut-brain axis (GBA) refers to the connection between the brain and the digestive system. Stress causes your brain to send out signals to your gut that may disrupt your digestion. According to Dr. Quigley, a considerable number of IBS patients have histories of childhood trauma like a parent’s death, or sexual abuse. 


Fibromyalgia is a widespread musculoskeletal pain that presents itself with fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues. According to the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia may amplify painful sensations by altering how your brain processes pain signals. Dr. Quigley says 50 to 60 percent of fibromyalgia patients suffer from IBS.

Family history of IBS

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Familial trends are common in IBS, but it’s uncertain whether genetic or environmental factors are at play. 

Source: The Healthy

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