What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

When you’re suffering the symptoms, it becomes important to know the causes of irritable bowel syndrome. Unfortunately, there’s no one known cause of this disorder.  While many problems with the digestive system are caused by infection or structural problems, IBS doesn’t seem to fit this pattern.

Instead, irritable bowel syndrome is a collection of symptoms that affect your digestive system and can have many different causes. Let’s take a look at some of the most common things that scientists believe contribute to irritable bowel syndrome.

Your Diet

Diet may be a cause, although there’s no one food that’s to blame. Instead, you may just have intestines that are very sensitive to specific foods. It’s important to pay attention to your diet and which foods seem to cause problems.

Family History

You may have a genetic predisposition to irritable bowel syndrome. While no gene has been identified as causing IBS, it can often be seen as a pattern in families. If you have family members with it, you may suffer from it as well. 

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes have also been suspected as culprit for IBS. In particular, women seem to suffer more than men from this disorder. It’s possible that changes throughout the menstrual cycle can contribute to more problems with irritation of the bowel.


Stress also seems to be an important causal factor. It’s thought that there might be a reaction triggered by stress between the brain and the nerves of the intestines. This can cause them to react by constricting. This can either speed up the processing of food and cause diarrhea or slow it down and cause constipation.


While it may be impossible to eliminate some of the things that cause irritable bowel syndrome, knowing the causes can be helpful when determining a treatment plan. You can pinpoint what in your life may be causing the symptoms and one by one begin eliminating or managing them.

For example, if certain foods are triggering problems you can reduce or eliminate them from your diet.  If stress seems to be a factor causing you to have irritable bowel syndrome, you can work on ways to reduce stress and manage what you can’t completely remove.

Because there is no one cause for IBS, treatment seems to work best when several things are combined. For example, you may make dietary changes, apply stress management techniques, and take a medication to help control it. Understanding the multiple causes of irritable bowel syndrome can help you to develop a strong treatment plan.

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