What Are the Causes of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)? Am I at Risk?


Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a GI condition that can affect your life in many ways. IBS is described as irritation in your large intestine, stomach, and other areas of the digestive system, often causing uncomfortable and, at times, distressing symptoms.

At San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates, we understand the discomforting effects irritable bowel syndrome might have on your health and well-being. Our GI specialists regularly treat irritable bowel syndrome in San Antonio, TX individuals, and can assist you in reducing its symptoms. Read on to learn more about IBS and to find out if you are at risk of developing IBS.

How can IBS develop?

The precise cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not known at this time. Researchers think it results from a disconnect between the brain (which is actually in charge of gut function) and the gastrointestinal system, leading many professionals to refer to it as “the brain-gut disorder.” This condition can cause functional problems within the digestive tract, causing the muscles to move food through the system too slowly or quickly. IBS is also referred to as “spastic colon” due to the spasms in the colon that typically go with IBS.

Many factors can trigger irritable bowel syndrome, such as:

  • Foods that are spicy or fatty
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Changes in your microbial makeup of the intestines
  • Stressful situations
  • Intestinal infections
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Fluctuations in hormones

Recognizing IBS triggers and your risk of IBS can help you better manage your body’s response if you develop this condition.

What are the risk factors of IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a complex GI problem. Certain factors, or a combination of factors, can cause the condition’s first appearance or reoccurrence. Some circumstances that could magnify your risk of IBS include:

  • Age group: People of just about every age group can get IBS; however, it often develops during the teenage years or early adulthood. It is not as common in individuals over 50 years old.
  • Being a woman: IBS is twice as common in women than men.
  • Lifestyle: Poor diet, lack of exercise, tobacco or alcohol use, and obesity may increase your chances of IBS.
  • Mental health: Anxiety and depression may increase the risk of getting the condition.
  • Family history: Some could be biologically at a greater risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome.

If you believe you may be at risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome or have other digestive issues, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at a San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates location near you.

What are the most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel symptoms can vary from person to person. In fact, IBS symptoms in women are usually different than IBS symptoms in men and can even range in intensity. In most cases, individuals with irritable bowel syndrome will experience moderate effects. Some of the most common symptoms of IBS are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Difficulty passing stools
  • Loose and watery stool

If you have any one of these signs or find a change in your bowel habits, it’s vital to be seen by a gastroenterologist. Our GI providers in San Antonio, TX will work to understand your concerns and symptoms to determine if IBS is causing your issues.

How can irritable bowel syndrome be treated?

While preventing irritable bowel syndrome isn't always possible, steps can be taken to lessen its effects. Treating IBS often involves the long-term management of associated symptoms to help control this condition. Reducing symptoms and discomfort and caring for irritable bowel syndrome could involve changes to your lifestyle, such as eating a high-fiber diet, making sure you drink a lot of water, an exercise routine, and staying away from common IBS triggers. Certain medications may also help alleviate its effects, like anti-nausea, anti-diarrheal, antidepressant, and anticholinergic medications. Laxatives and fiber supplements could recommended to address associated issues that can bring about the condition.

Get personalized care for irritable bowel syndrome in San Antonio, TX

In addition to causing annoying symptoms, IBS makes many people feel discouraged and uncomfortable. But it is possible to experience relief from this chronic ailment. The GI specialists at San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates can provide the necessary care for this condition and will usher you and/or your loved one to a better quality of life. To learn about irritable bowel syndrome care or to find a GI provider who offers treatment for IBS in San Antonio, TX, reach out to our team to request a consultation.

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