Bloating and diarrhoea are signs of a gut problem known as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. But what is IBS and what are the recent findings about it? Let's read on.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder which affects the colon. This condition is marked by increased contractions of the colon or peristalsis by overreacting to mild stimuli such as milk and dairy products, stress and other symptoms. This further leads to symptoms such as alternating constipation and diarrhea.
Irritable bowel syndrome is different from inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory bowel disease is a group of disorders which is marked by inflammation of the small and large intestines of the body. The inflammation causes symptoms such as severe and long-term pain in the abdomen, diarrhea which may be bloody, loss of appetite, weight loss, joint pain, fever, skin problems, rectal bleeding and other problems. These symptoms may be mild or severe and may also come and go away as remissions and exacerbations. The most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. These two are different from each other according to the part of the digestive tract that they affect. While ulcerative colitis commonly affects the top layer of the large intestines, Crohn's disease affects all layers of the intestinal wall. Ulcerative colitis causes swelling and ulcer formation in the lining of the large intestines, causing intestinal contents to spill over and cause a true medical emergency. On the other hand, Crohn's disease brings about swelling and scarring of the intestinal wall to create a thickened tissue that narrows the passageways of food from. Strictures form as a result along with deep ulcers that form tunnels that connect the different parts of the intestine. Crohn's disease commonly affects the last part of the small intestine called the ileum and the first part of the large intestine. Tunnels may connect to nearby organs and cause bleeding or perforation.
The diagnosis of IBS is based on symptoms. Its symptoms range from abdominal pain to discomfort to cramping and changes in bowel habits. Bowel movements occur less or more than usual and stools appear less solid or harder than the usual. The abdominal pain and discomfort is often relieved by bowel movement. There may also be vomiting and bloating. These symptoms may occur after consuming a meal.
The causes of IBS are not exactly known however some theories include signal problems between the gut and the brain, motility problems in the GI tract, mental health problems, bacterial gastroenteritis, genetics and food sensitivity. People with IBS often exhibit symptoms after consuming foods such as spicy foods, fatty foods, coffee, alcohol and those rich in carbohydrates. These people do not exhibit signs and symptoms of food allergy. These symptoms may be due to poor absorption of sugars of bile acids. Bile acids help break down fat inside the body and help excrete waste materials from the body.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Gut Microbiota
One of the topics in the recently concluded Gut Microbiota for Health World Summit in Miami, FL, USA speaks about the link between IBS and gut microbiota alterations. It is also related to specific types of diet. These findings may open avenues for new ways on how to manage this disease. People with IBS often complain more of bloating than any other symptom.
In the past, bloating associated with irritable bowel syndrome was often thought to be a psychological condition that affects mostly young anxious female patients. Now, with new research findings, experts now think that IBS is caused more by microbial communities that live in the gut. There is a lot of evidence saying that IBS is caused by an imbalance of the gut microbiota, meaning that there is an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. The healthy gut microbiota is disturbed in IBS patients. This may be the reason why IBS arises after a single episode of gastroenteritis caused by bacterial infections such as Salmonella and Shigella. Antibiotics may also lead to the development of IBS. Knowing these, experts are now focused on discovering ways on how to treat and prevent IBS and its symptoms.
You can learn more about gut diseases by reading our other articles in this site.