Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The exact cause of IBS remains unknown. In a healthy digestive system, the muscles in the intestines relax and contract in rhythm to help food move from the stomach through the intestinal tract. In some IBS sufferers, the muscle contractions are stronger and last longer resulting in gas, bloating and diarrhea. For others the muscles tend to remain relaxed which slows down the passage of food through the digestive tract, making stools dry and hard
IBS may also be caused by an abnormal nervous system, digestive tract issues, or hormonal imbalances. For instance, IBS patients may have a hormone imbalance of serotonin. This important chemical is essential for normal digestion. Others may have a compromised digestive tract that is low in good bacteria. This is common for those suffering with Candida overgrowth.
There may be certain triggers that can cause IBS to escalate. These triggers include food, stress, medications or hormones. Some people experience worsening symptoms after eating certain foods. Alcohol, chocolate and milk may cause diarrhea or constipation, while fruits, sodas and vegetable may cause gas and bloating. If IBS worsens after eating certain food items such as dairy, nuts or gluten, food intolerance may be the cause. Stress along with hormonal changes can also exacerbate symptoms. When patients become stressed, stomach acids can increase and muscles can tense causing diarrhea and flatulence. More women suffer with IBS than men, leading scientists and physicians to believe that hormones play a role in irritable bowel syndrome. During a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, hormones fluctuate and can result in an increase in irritable bowel symptoms.