According to medical experts, irritable bowel syndrome is a group of symptoms that are as a result of communication failure between the brain and gastrointestinal tract. The correct cause of this condition is not yet known but health care providers agree that it is a disorder that results from changes in how the gastrointestinal tract works. Although the tract is not damaged, people with this disorder experience certain symptoms.
The general symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are abdominal pain that comes with constipation and diarrhea. Bowel movement or a change in stool frequency triggers this pain. The bowel movement either occurs more or less than the usual times. Stool may seem hard and lumpy or looser and watery than it usually is. Other symptoms are abdominal bloating as well as passing mucus.
What are the causes for irritable bowel syndrome?
Even though the cause is not yet known, health experts believe that physical and mental factors can cause irritable bowel syndrome.
Majority of the people complain of these symptoms after consuming certain foods and beverages. Foods like carbohydrates, fatty, fried and spicy foods. Coffee, alcohol and fizzy drinks also cause these symptoms.
Gastrointestinal motility problems
A person with irritable bowel syndrome may not experience normal movement in the colon. Slow movement causes constipation while fast movement causes diarrhea. They experience abdominal pain as a result of sudden strong contractions of the muscles that come and go. Some people have hyper-reactivity which results from eating or stress.
Mental or psychological problems lead to anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and depression. The connection between these symptoms and the disorder are not clear but majority of people with irritable bowel syndrome have these problems. Many people with this disorder have reported sexual and physical abuse. Health professionals believe that people who have undergone abuse tend to use physical symptoms to convey their psychological trauma.
Gut signal problems
The brain and nerves control intestines functioning by sending signals about the small and large intestines. Interference of these signals causes irritable bowel syndrome. As a result of these changes, bowel movement is also affected which causes abdominal discomfort.
Gastroenteritis is a bacterial infection that affects the stomach and intestines. Health experts have not yet established why this infection causes irritable bowel syndrome in some people and not others but they believe that abnormalities of the gastrointestinal tract and psychological problems cause this infection.
Health experts believe that a change in hormones causes this disorder and women are more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome. During menstrual periods, women experience hormonal changes which worsen the signs and symptoms of this condition.