Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

To successfully treat and prevent recurrence of irritable bowel syndrome we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow irritable bowel syndrome to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind irritable bowel syndrome consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to irritable bowel syndrome.  Here are six possibilities:
  • Low Digestive Enzymes
  • Stomach Acid Deficiency
  • Hypercoagulation
  • Anxiety
  • Bacterial Dysbiosis
  • Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
low alcohol consumption
low energy/stamina
offensive-smelling stool
mild facial burning/tingling
intolerance of sugars
vision disturbances
past PPI antacid use
broad-spectrum antibiotic use
frequent meal-related bloating
irritated eyes
regular chest tightness
craving specific foods
... and more than 70 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of irritable bowel syndrome:
Cause Probability Status
Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia 95% Confirm
Low Digestive Enzymes 70% Possible
Stomach Acid Deficiency 24% Unlikely
Hypercoagulation 3% Ruled out
Bacterial Dysbiosis 0% Ruled out
Anxiety 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate bowel problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Have you been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Mild, in the past, now resolved
→ Serious, in the past, now resolved
→ Current minor/moderate problem
→ Current major problem
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate history of irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome or severe irritable bowel syndrome, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Bacterial Dysbiosis

Some bacterial infections of the small bowel increase passive intestinal permeability.  IBS has been studied in patients with diarrhea, cramps and specific food intolerances.  Abnormal fecal flora has been a consistent finding, with a decrease in the ratio of anaerobes to aerobes, apparently due to a deficiency of anaerobic flora.  Previous exposure to antibiotics – metronidazole in particular – was associated with the development of this disorder.

Hypercoagulation (Thickened Blood)

Hypercoagulation may be a major causative factor for Irritable Bowel Disease because it deprives the bowel of blood.

Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Research has shown that IBS frequently co-exists with CFS and fibromyalgia.  Depending on the study quoted, between 34% and 73% of CFS/FMS sufferers have Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

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