8 Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is perhaps the most overlooked condition in the world. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, roughly 15% of the world’s population suffers from IBS. Intestinal cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and even mucus in the stool are all symptoms that 45 million Americans struggle with every day.

IBS is chronic disorder, meaning there is no cure, so the best way to treat it is to prevent it through lifestyle changes. The most common causes are typically preventable with simple lifestyle habits such as diet, exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and lowering personal stress.

It’s probably a good idea to go to the doctor with any symptoms of IBS. Unfortunately, the average person with irritable bowel syndrome waits over six years before seeking medical help. While it’s true that irritable bowels can be managed with lifestyle changes, sometimes medication is needed to aid in digestion.

1. Muscle Contractions in the Intestine

Muscle contractions in the intestine is perhaps the first key to understanding the cause of IBS. The body has a normal digestive process that begins with simply chewing and swallowing food. That food travels through the esophagus and into the stomach where it is “digested,” meaning it is mingled with gastric juices from the stomach and liver. Once it reaches the intestines, it slowly passes through the long canal to allow nutrient absorption by contraction of the intestine.

This contraction of the intestine is part of the natural way to digest food, and it’s required for a proper functioning digestive tract, but when this process goes awry, it becomes a major cause for an upset colon. In a process that is still not entirely yet understood, instead of smooth, controlled contractions, the intestines can also undergo sporadic, uncontrolled contractions.