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  • Writer's pictureBrian Dooreck MD

What is the cause of IBS?

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

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Millions of people in the United States quietly suffer from digestive problems such as stomach pain, bloating, and cramping. Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is characterized by these symptoms. However, only half of those who suffer from IBS get diagnosed.

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Understanding the facts about this condition is crucial because it's not uncommon.

Many people don't recognize IBS symptoms. Yet, IBS is one of the most common disorders seen by physicians.

Can I suddenly develop IBS?

Your IBS symptoms may not be as sudden as they appear. Regularly, most people aren't aware of their bowel movements. You might begin to pay attention to your digestion and discover that something is off when symptoms occur more frequently.

What causes IBS?

The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is still unknown. "Unknown" suggests it involves several factors, such as infection, inflammation, medication, and stress.

Nevertheless, IBS can be caused by a disruption in how the gut, brain, and neurological systems interact and communicate.

Potential triggers of IBS include:

  • Diet

  • Lack of sleep

  • Stress

Does stress worsen IBS symptoms?

During increased pressure, most people with IBS report frequent signs and symptoms. Stress releases hormones, including the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF). Moreover, this hormone is connected to the stomach's healthy bacteria carry on the bowel function.

How do I treat the stress that worsens my IBS?

A way to reduce stress is to recognize the source causing anxiety or tension. While some people may quickly identify the origin of their stress, keeping a journal is beneficial for tracking your daily patterns. Life events may cause a flare-up in the long run, so remember to maintain the journal for the future.

Once you've recognized the sources of your stress, you can take action to eliminate them and train yourself how to cope with the stress that these situations may cause.

How does a doctor diagnose IBS?

There is no definite test to diagnose IBS. Instead, your gastroenterologist will inquire about any symptoms you may be experiencing.

For many people, getting a diagnosis is a long and arduous process. IBS diagnoses are frequently delayed because people believe their symptoms are not severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor.

How can I treat IBS?

The goal of treatment is to improve symptoms and quality of life. Diet plays a significant influence in boosting health. Before prescribing medication, doctors will most likely recommend home treatments. These can include the following:

  • Physical exercise regularly

  • Limiting your intake of caffeinated beverages

  • Refrain from deep-fried or spicy foods that can upset your bowels

  • Eat smaller meal servings

  • Get enough rest (at least 7 hours of sleep)

Check out this video from ESNM “Irritable Bowel Syndrome — Symptoms, Treatment, Research”

Bottom Line

Your life does not have to be controlled by IBS. Choosing a nutritious and balanced diet can alleviate symptoms and prevent sudden outbursts. Learn more about your food's impact on treating IBS in this blog post.


I eat a high-fiber, mostly plant-based 🌱 diet, no red meat, drink 4 liters of water a day, exercise, and am focused on keeping nutrition simple. I am sharing what works for me and what I routinely recommend to my patients.

"Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🌱 🌾 🌿"

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Connect with Dr. Dooreck on LinkedIn, where he focuses his sharing on Health, Diet, Nutrition, Exercise, Lifestyle, and Balance.


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