PREVIOUS QUESTION:

 

NEXT QUESTION:

 

What causes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

ANSWER

Doctors don't have a clear picture what IBS is or what causes it, but researchers do have a few theories:

  • IBS sufferers may have a more sensitive colon than others.
  • In people with IBS, the brain may perceive contractions in the gut more acutely than others.
  • The immune system may respond differently to stress and infection in people with IBS.
  • Hormonal changes may trigger IBS symptoms (70% of those who suffer from IBS are women).
  • The neurotransmitter serotonin may act on digestive tract nerves. Those with diarrhea may have increased serotonin levels in the gut, while those with constipation-predominant IBS have decreased amounts.

SOURCES: 

Jeffrey Roberts, president and founder, IBS Self Help and Support Group. 

American College of Gastroenterology. 

Mayo Clinic. 

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Harvard Health Publications: "Understanding and treating an irritable bowel."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 12, 2017

SOURCES: 

Jeffrey Roberts, president and founder, IBS Self Help and Support Group. 

American College of Gastroenterology. 

Mayo Clinic. 

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Harvard Health Publications: "Understanding and treating an irritable bowel."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 12, 2017

NEXT QUESTION:

Is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) a real medical condition?

WAS THIS ANSWER HELPFUL

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.