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Irritable bowel syndrome: What causes the symptoms?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disorder of the intestinal tract that can trigger a variety of symptoms. They express themselves differently from person to person. The same applies to the reasons why the symptoms arise at all. There is no single cause for irritable bowel syndrome – instead, doctors repeatedly observe a number of different triggers that can promote irritable bowel syndrome.

Disturbance of the natural intestinal movement as a cause of irritable bowel syndrome

The food bolus is moved in the intestine by rhythmic tightening and relaxation of the musculature, the so-called intestinal peristalsis. It is controlled by its own nervous system in the intestinal wall. It is similarly complex to the central nervous system and is therefore also known as the abdominal brain. However, if the communication between nerves and muscles is faulty, the contractions may occur too quickly or too slowly.

If bowel movements are too fast, the digestive tract does not have time to draw enough water from the food bolus. The result: the stool is liquid and is excreted like a diarrhoea.

If the intestinal movements are slowed down, the intestine withdraws too much water from the food bolus, which in turn can cause constipation.

Postinfectious irritable bowel syndrome

Acute gastrointestinal disease is also one of the possible causes of irritable bowel syndrome: Some bacterial strains are particularly suspected of causing a chronically irritated bowel, even after the actual infection has subsided, which causes micro-inflammations in the intestinal wall. Characteristic of this is irritable bowel syndrome, which is dominated by severe diarrhoea.

Intestinal barrier disorder

The intestinal barrier is responsible for regulating the permeability of the intestine: Substances that belong in the intestine are to be passed through and harmful substances are to be fended off. Responsible for this are certain cells of the intestinal mucosa, which form an effective and impermeable bridge with their neighbouring cells. If these bridges are not sufficiently sealed, the intestinal mucosa becomes too permeable , and foreign bodies and pathogens may also enter the intestine.

Visceral hypersensitivity

Especially in patients who mainly complain of abdominal pain, so-called visceral hypersensitivity can be the primary cause of irritable bowel syndrome. This means that the intestine is excessively sensitive: Movements, pressure and stretching of the intestine make patients feel pain faster than others.

Disturbance of the intestinal flora

The intestinal microbiome is an ecosystem of its own containing hundreds of billions of bacteria. Most of them are useful and keep pathogens at bay. However, infection or taking antibiotics can quickly tilt this ratio. If the intestinal flora is out of balance in the long run, this can be noticed by a nervous and sensitive intestine.

An intestinal test, in which the exact distribution of the intestinal bacteria is analysed in the laboratory, can provide information as to whether a disturbed intestinal flora is a possible cause of your irritable bowel syndrome. With the INTEST.pro from BIOMES you can even perform the stool sample necessary for such a test comfortably at home – you simply send the test tube in the enclosed envelope to our laboratory by mail.

Irritable bowel syndrome – if the cause is in the psyche

The psyche is also a possible cause of irritable bowel syndrome: terms such as “gut feeling” already suggest how closely the bowel and brain are linked. This is due to the so-called intestinal-brain axis, which connects the hundreds of millions of nerve cells of the intestine with the central nervous system. There is a lively exchange between head and abdomen, signals from the intestine influence the psyche and vice versa. Stress, fear or grief can literally hit the abdomen and trigger or intensify irritable bowel syndrome.

Irritable bowel syndrome: Other causes

Other causes of irritable bowel syndrome are also conceivable: For example, genes can play a role in the development of irritable bowel syndrome. In terms of nutrition, an influence has not been sufficiently proven. What is certain, however, is that a fresh and fibre-rich diet has a positive effect on the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria. In contrast, food intolerances such as lactose or gluten intolerance can trigger symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome. However, they can be alleviated as far as possible by an adapted diet.

More information about INTEST.pro The BIOMES intestinal test

How do we analyse your intestinal flora? What exactly does the test include? Where can you buy INTEST.pro?
And how do we protect your data?

Dr. Paul Hammer
CEO & Founder
Dr Paul Hammer is the founder and CEO of BIOMES NGS GmbH. Paul received his PhD in systems biology and bioinformatics in 2012.
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