Anxiety During Illness May Trigger IBS
Pushing Self During Intestinal Infection Also Raises Risk of IBS, Study Shows
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 26, 2007 -- People who are overly anxious or refuse to slow down during
a bout of food poisoning or other infection-related gastrointestinal illness
may be prone to developing irritable bowel syndrome, according to a new
The findings reinforce the view that emotional factors like stress and
anxiety contribute to the chronic bowel condition. But they also suggest that
the way a person deals with acute illness plays a role.
Researchers found that people who pushed themselves too hard when they had
bacterial gastroenteritis developed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) more often
than people who took it easy.
Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the digestive tract that can result from
a viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection.
“Instead of resting up, these driven people kept going until they collapsed
in a heap,” study co-author Rona Moss-Morris, PhD, tells WebMD. “The
gastroenteritis triggered the symptoms, but this ‘all-or-nothing’ behavior may
have helped prolong them.”
1 in 5 Americans
Roughly one in five Americans has IBS, a chronic condition characterized by
abdominal pain, bloating, and either constipation, diarrhea, or both, according
to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).
Four out of five cases occur among women, and symptoms usually begin in late
adolescence or early adulthood.
Though the disorder remains a mystery, previous studies have shown that
acute gastrointestinal illness, such as a bout of food poisoning, seems to
trigger IBS in some people.
In an effort to determine if psychological response to biological illness
plays a role in IBS, Moss-Morris and colleagues followed 620 people who had
confirmed gastroenteritis caused by a bacterial infection.