What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Who Is at Risk?


The gastrointestinal (GI) disorder known as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS can affect your life in many ways. Causing inflammation in the large intestine, stomach, and other parts of the GI tract, IBS commonly results in uncomfortable and, at times, embarrassing symptoms.

At Washington Gastroenterology, we understand the difficult effects irritable bowel syndrome can have on your daily health, contentment, and quality of life. Our GI doctors routinely treat IBS in Washington patients and are ready to help ease its symptoms. Read on to learn what might be behind the development of IBS and whether you may be at risk of developing the condition.

How does IBS develop?

The precise cause of IBS is unknown at this time. Doctors believe it results from a disruption between the brain (which is in charge of gut function) and the gastrointestinal system, leading many professionals to refer to it as “the brain-gut disorder.” This interference can produce motility problems inside the digestive tract, causing the muscles to move food through the large and small intestines too slowly or quickly. Irritable bowel syndrome is also known as “spastic colon” due to the colon spasms that may accompany it.

Several factors may trigger IBS, including:

  • Changes in the microbial makeup of the intestines
  • Stress
  • Alcohol use
  • Fatty or spicy foods
  • Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and soda
  • Intestinal infections, such as bacterial or viral gastroenteritis
  • Hormone fluctuations

Recognizing IBS triggers and your likelihood of developing irritable bowel syndrome could help you better manage your body’s response should you develop irritable bowel syndrome.

What are the risk factors of IBS?

IBS is a complicated gastrointestinal concern. Therefore, multiple components may combine to cause the onset or recurrence of the condition. Factors that might increase the risk of irritable bowel syndrome involve:

  • Lifestyle: A poor diet, lack of exercise, tobacco or alcohol use, and obesity may all elevate your chances of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Age: Patients of nearly every age can get IBS, but it most commonly begins during the teenage years or early adulthood. It is not as frequent in those over 50 years old.
  • Being a woman: Irritable bowel syndrome is about twice as prevalent among women than men.
  • Mental health: Mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, can increase the risk of getting the condition.
  • Family history: Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to IBS.

If you fear you may be at risk of developing IBS or other GI issues, we encourage you to request a consultation at a Washington Gastroenterology location near you.

What are the common symptoms of IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms can differ from person to person. Generally, IBS symptoms in women differ from IBS symptoms in men and can range in intensity. The majority of people with irritable bowel syndrome will experience moderate effects. The more common symptoms of IBS include:

If you have any of these indications or detect a change in your bowel habits, it is essential to consult a physician. Our Washington digestive health providers can evaluate your symptoms to determine fi irritable bowel syndrome is to blame.

How is irritable bowel syndrome treated?

Even though preventing IBS may not be possible, action can be taken to lessen its consequences. Addressing and controlling irritable bowel syndrome often involves the long-term management of symptoms. Alleviating associated issues and managing IBS could include lifestyle modifications, such as eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, and staying away from known IBS triggers. Certain medications could also help alleviate IBS symptoms, like antidepressant, anti-diarrheal, anti-nausea, and anticholinergic medications. Laxatives and fiber supplements are often recommended to help address underlying issues that often contribute to the disorder.

Receive irritable bowel syndrome treatment in Washington

More than causing uncomfortable symptoms, IBS makes many people feel hopeless and defeated. However, it is possible to experience relief from this disease. Our team at Washington Gastroenterology offers effective care for irritable bowel syndrome and can guide you and/or your loved one to better health. To find out more about your risks, irritable bowel syndrome self-care, and to locate a GI doctor who provides IBS treatment in Washington, please contact one of our locations to request an appointment.

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