Possible reasons for an irritable bowel syndrome

The so-to-say irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) describes a functional gastrointestinal dysfunction. Further terms are irritable bowel, irritable colon or nervous stomach.

The irritable bowel syndrome is a functional intestinal disease. That means, the function of the bowel is disrupted, but on the actual organ nothing is damaged.

The diagnose irritable bowel syndrome or rather the exclusion of other possible intestinal diseases, occurs as a rule with the help of many different examinations. Gastroscopy and colonoscopy, ultrasound and also blood tests belong to the standard diagnostic procedure. When these investigations find no organic reasons for the irritable bowel symptoms of the patient, then the diagnose IBS remains.

Reasons for an irritable bowel syndrome

The search for possible reasons for an irritable bowel syndrome turns out to be very difficult. There is just not ONE reason for the irritable bowel syndrome. There again, it has been proved that the sensitivity toward certain food can cause many irritable bowel symptoms.

Real food allergies are rare, but more likely patients with irritable bowel syndrome suffer more often with at least one food intolerance. Especially fructose intolerance occurs very often. The symptoms of an irritable bowel syndrome appear as a result of incompletely absorbed fructose. The symptoms specifically occur after certain foods have been consumed. Stomach ache, flatulence and diarrhoea occur with a fructose intolerance especially after the consumption of fruit or other sugary meals.

Studies show, that by 74% of the patients with irritable bowel syndrome and fructose malabsorption, an increasing improvement happens to the irritable bowel symptoms, when fructose is avoided in the diet. Also, the so-to-say elimination diet, meaning to do without particular food particles (for example FODMAP) can evidently reduce the symptoms of an irritable bowel.

The right choice of suitable foods can also by all irritable bowel symptoms can definitely increase the quality of life!

The typical irritable bowel symptoms

It is safe to assume, that in most countries worldwide, approximately 5-11% of the population suffer from an irritable bowel syndrome.

Typical symptoms are reoccurring flatulence with or without bloating, constipation, unpleasant feeling of fullness and belching, heartburn and nausea. Stomach ache, experienced mostly as a heavy weight, stabbing or spasmodic after bowel movement, the frequent urge to defecate or the feeling that the bowels are not fully emptied. Mostly the symptoms diminish on the evening, whereas in the day time they can be a really heavy burden. Also typical is that the symptoms of an irritable bowel alternate. Which means it can happen that a person affected not only suffers from constipation or diarrhoea, but also from both alternatively.

Different irritable bowel basic types can be grouped: Patients with irritable bowel diarrhoea as a main symptom, patients with irritable bowel constipation as a main symptom and patients with an irritable bowel where constipation and diarrhoea alternate. By all types, it can also come to or only, flatulence and pain.

Other symptoms, that do not have anything to do with the gastrointestinal tract, but often occur by irritable bowel syndrome are the tendence to headaches (also migraines), back pain, joint pain, sleep disorder, anxiety and a depressive feeling.

When do the typical irritable bowel symptoms like stomach ache, flatulence, diarrhoea and constipation actually point towards an irritable bowel syndrome?

As a rule, all three following criteria have to be filled for the diagnose irritable bowel syndrome:

1. The complaints have to be chronic, therefore have been there for at least three months and a doctor and the patient clearly state that it comes from the bowels. The irritable bowel symptoms can be accompanied by a change of bowel movements (diarrhoea and/or constipation) but that does not have to be obligatory.

2. The symptoms are so clearly noticeable, that the patient has a reduced quality of life. On the other side are so-to-say nervous disorders only lightly distinctive and only occur occasionally, just in certain situations (stress, wrong diet) and have got nothing to do with an irritable bowel syndrome.

3. No other illness may exist that causes symptoms simular to those from an irritable bowel syndrome.