Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, affects up to 23% of the population worldwide. The disorder accounts for approximately 12 percent of all visits to doctors. IBS is one of the leading causes of absenteeism from work. It is estimated that IBS costs the United States more than $21 billion a year in medical costs and costs related to missed work and decreased productivity.
Part of the reason why IBS is such a problem is because many conventional treatments are not sufficient. They only address the symptoms and don’t target the underlying cause of the disorder. There is no specific test for IBS. It is diagnosed based on a process of elimination. With IBS, physicians typically look for the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Food Intolerances
Other diseases that could be causing the symptoms, such as diverticulitis and GERD, are then ruled out. Once other conditions are excluded, IBS will usually be diagnosed. The doctor might prescribe medications to address the symptoms.
- Anticholinergic medications – They help reduce pain and bowel spasms. Unfortunately, they have a variety of unpleasant side effects, such as painful urination.
- Anti-diarrheal medications – These are available OTC. Antidiarrheals can make symptoms of bloating worse.
- Antidepressants – SSRI antidepressants are often prescribed for Irritable bowel syndrome. They help with depression, which often co-occurs with IBS. Plus, they slow the neurons that are related to intestinal control. This action helps relieve symptoms of IBS.
Current treatments for IBS merely suppress the symptoms. They do not treat the real cause of the disorder. Therefore, as soon as the medications are stopped, symptoms will likely return.
To experience genuine and lasting improvement in symptoms rather than a Band-Aid solution, the cause of IBS must be identified.
Medical experts believe that there are multiple causes for the disorder. Here are five explanations for IBS that your doctor may not even know about.
#1: Leaky Gut
Leaky gut occurs when the intestinal barrier becomes permeable or leaky. The gastrointestinal tract serves as the barrier system that prevents undesirable substances and pathogens from entering the body. The intestinal tract can become damaged or leaky, which results in IBS symptoms.
This condition refers to disrupted gut microbiota. There are more than 100 trillion organisms that influence the human metabolism, immune system, physiology and more. Disruption of the microorganisms that live in the gut has been found to be connected to IBS as well as a host of other conditions including obesity.
#3: Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Small intestine bacterial overgrowth or SIBO occurs when there is an overabundance of harmful bacteria in the small intestine. One research study found that more than 80 percent of patients with IBS have SIBO. Researchers have also found that antibiotics used to treat SIBO are useful in treating IBS. Unfortunately, these antibiotics are not a solution for IBS due to antibiotic resistance and possible side effects.
#4: Food Intolerances and Gluten Sensitivity
Some people have what is called a non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which means that they have a reaction to the protein that is not related to the autoimmune disorder celiac disease. Despite what the media says, gluten sensitivity is a serious and legitimate condition for some people who do not have celiac disease. Food or gluten sensitivities are often common factors that contribute to IBS.
#5: Gut Infections
The human stomach is resistant to harmful bacteria. The gut produces acid that helps kill potential harmful bacteria. However, many modern factors, such as overuse of antibiotics and poor diet have compromised the defense system so the gut cannot function as it should.
To get lasting relief from IBS, you must address the underlying cause. This is almost always some kind of pathogenic overgrowth. When you do that, a complete recovery from IBS is possible.