• Holly Erikitola

What Causes IBS?



For many years nobody really knew what caused IBS. The condition was commonly (and sometimes still can be) a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning when all other testing came back negative you were diagnosed as having IBS. Worse still, many doctors believed (and some still do) that IBS is ‘all in your head’ or caused by stress.


Thankfully we now have scientific evidence this is not the case. Accurate testing is becoming more available and we know that although stress can exacerbate the symptoms of IBS, it does not cause it.


THE FIVE MAIN CAUSES OF IBS


The causes of IBS can be grouped into five categories:

  • Digestive Deficiencies – This refers to issues like not producing enough digestive enzymes to be able to break down food, or not producing enough hydrochloric acid, or bile.

  • Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth/Motility Issues – This is when the bacteria that belong in the large intestine or colon make their way up to the small intestine.

  • Intestinal Hyperpermeability – Damage to the lining of the small intestine causing microscopic holes to appear.

  • Infections/Dysbiosis – Parasitic and fungal infections or an imbalance of microbes in the gut.

  • Genetic Polymorphisms – Such as an upregulated CBS gene causing excess sulphur.


THE MOST COMMON CAUSE OF IBS


By far the most common cause of IBS is small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). It is estimated up to 70% of IBS cases are caused by SIBO.


SIBO is caused by the beneficial bacteria that belong in the large intestine or colon entering the small intestine usually because the wavelike motions that push things along aren’t functioning well enough. The small intestine usually contains only a small number of bacteria. When bacteria from the colon start to proliferate in the small intestine, they cause symptoms such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea because of the gases they produce.


WHY YOU NEED TO FIND YOUR ROOT CAUSE


It’s vital to find out which of these five categories your IBS falls into because the way to resolve each of these is very different. Maybe you've heard of people taking a medication or supplement and having immediate success – whereas you have been suffering for some time. This is because what works for one person will not necessarily work for another especially if the cause of their IBS is different. Designing a self-care plan that is tailored to your personal situation is the best and quickest way to get relief.


READ NEXT: WHY YOU NEED A PERSONALIZED SELF-CARE PLAN >