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Key Information About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Chronic Disease

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disease of the digestive system. It is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects 6 to 18 percent of people worldwide.

A research study (conducted in August 2022) led by Professor Gwee, a gastroenterologist from Gleneagles Hospital and an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the National University of Singapore, found that people who suffer from it tend to be under 50, and are more educated and affluent.

“This disease is rarely understood and there are a lot of misconceptions around it,” says Dr Vibhor Pareek, Consultant, Gastroenterology, Max Hospital, Gurgaon.


IBS with constipation

IBS with diarrhea

IBS with mixed bowel habits


Irritable bowel syndrome can develop after a severe bout of diarrhea caused by pathogens like bacteria and virus.

Gas-producing foods like beans and lentils, fried foods, carbonated beverages and spicy foods are known to cause IBS.

Gluten, a naturally-occurring protein found in foods like barley, rye and wheat, may also trigger IBS symptoms.

A research study investigating IBS in 16-year-olds indicates that having asthma or food allergies at age 12 increases the chances of developing teenage irritable bowel syndrome.

COVID-19 can cause disorders of gut-brain interaction, including postinfection irritable bowel syndrome.

A research study conducted in November 2022 and published in Frontiers of Neuroscience used repeated exposure to psychological stress to induce IBS-like symptoms in mice.

The study’s author Akiyoshi Saitoh, Ph.D., a professor at Tokyo University of Science, told Medical News Today:

“IBS is a disease whose pathophysiology has not been elucidated due to the lack of useful animal models for research, and no fundamental treatment has been established. In this study, we found that ‘chronic vicarious social defeat stress model mice’ subjected to repetitive mental stress alone showed diarrhea-type IBS-like symptoms of increased bowel hypermobility and increased visceral pain-related behaviors, even though there were no histological abnormalities in the intestines.”

Fried Foods Can Cause IBS



Stomach cramps, nausea, loose stools, loss of appetite, abdominal bloating, weight loss and abdominal pain are some symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons


“I would have stomach pains after eating and went to the doctor, who then referred me to a specialist, which is the typical IBS journey, because no one has an idea of what is wrong with you,” Anjie Liu (who was diagnosed with IBS six years ago) told TechCrunch. “Between 10 percent and 15 percent of people suffer from IBS, but only half of those people are officially diagnosed.”

Diagnosis of this painful condition is based on symptoms; exclusion of worrisome features; and performance of specific investigations to rule out conditions that display similar symptoms.

Experts have now developed second-generation biomarker testing for IBS using plasma anti-CdtB and anti-vinculin levels that can accurately reveal whether a person has IBS with diarrhea or irritable bowel disease.

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Rifaximin, Alosetron and Linaclotide are some medicines used to treat irritable bowel syndrome. Talk with your doctor about possible side effects and what to do if you have them.

In August 2012, linaclotide (Linzess, Ironwood/Forest) was approved for the treatment of IBS–C and CIC in adults.

It is a first-in-class, 14-amino acid peptide of the guanylin peptide family and acts as a selective agonist at the guanylate cyclase–C (GC–C) receptor on the luminal surface of intestinal enterocytes.

A strong partnership between a knowledgeable patient and an empathetic, knowledgeable doctor can produce significant improvement and control over symptoms for individuals with this stressful condition.

“There are so many things we can do to make you feel better,” said Ellen Stein, M.D., a gastroenterologist and associate professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Your quality of life will improve once you get the right treatment. Make sure you don’t ignore your symptoms and get seen.”

Hypnotherapy, a form of psychological treatment to help patients reach deep relaxation, has been shown to relieve IBS symptoms.

Researchers found that patients with IBS or IBD who used the relaxation response (a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as meditation) saw improvement in their quality of life.

— The Harvard Gazette



It is not possible to prevent irritable bowel syndrome, but appropriate self-care may help ease symptoms.

One of the first lines of defense is to start a gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in grains including rye, wheat, and barley.

Reduce lactose intake; lactose is found in dairy.

Do yoga daily. Meditate daily. Avoid alcohol consumption.

Include foods with soluble fiber in your diet. Soluble fibre is found in foods like fruits, oats, and beans.

Avoid artificial sweeteners. Reduce ingestion of foods high in carbohydrates.

Studies show that eating foods rich in fat—particularly creamy or fried foods—can slow your digestion and lead to excessive gas, bloating, and constipation.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Srikanth R

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