IBS: Risk Factors, and Triggering Factors

Irritable bowel syndrome, although very common health problem, unfortunately the cause is not clearly known. There are number of factors that play a role in its causation, such as abnormality in the muscle lining of the intestinal wall. The muscle linings are responsible for propulsion of food from stomach to intestine and finally rectum. If the muscle lining is not normal, there may be contractions (known as peristalsis) of muscle lining that may be stronger and longer duration leading to IBS symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating or sometimes the contractions may be weak leading to dry and hard stool leading to constipation. Another abnormality may be in the nervous system supplying the gastrointestinal system.ID-100283919

Risk factors of IBS:

  • Female sex: women are twice likely to suffer from IBS in compare to males.
  • Family history of IBS: if you have a first degree relative with IBS, you are at greater risk of developing IBS. The cause of this may be genetic or may be environmental, as members of a family live under similar environmental conditions.
  • Young age: IBS is common among individuals below 45 years of age
  • Mental health problem: individuals with psychiatric problems are at greater risk of developing IBS

Many people report to have symptoms similar to IBS, boy they usually do not suffer from IBS and those symptoms are temporary.

Triggering factors of IBS:

There are some factors which may act as trigger for IBS symptoms. However, all people with IBS may not have any triggering factors. Triggering factors for IBS include:

  • Stress: during stress, symptoms of IBS are much worse than normal times, such as during exam time or during some stressful assignment in job. Although stress aggravate the symptoms of IBS, it is not a causative factor for IBS.
  • Foods: many patients experience worsening of symptoms of IBS if they eat certain type of foods, although the role of food allergy in IBS is not clear. Different patients experience worsening of symptoms with different foods and an individual may have worsening of symptoms with more than one type of food. Example of foods that may trigger IBS symptoms, but not limited to, include, cabbage, cauliflower, fats, fruits, chocolate, milk, alcohol, carbonated drinks, leafy vegetables etc.
  • Hormones: hormones are thought to be triggering factors because of the observation that women suffer from IBS twice as much as males. Also, women patients of IBS, report that their symptoms worsen during menstrual cycles.
  • Other medical conditions: various medical conditions may act as triggering factors for worsening of IBS symptoms such as acute gastroenteritis, excess bacterial flora in GIT etc.

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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