What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder which triggers intestinal problems. IBS is a disorder where the intestines do not function perfectly. The functioning of the bowel is thus disrupted. 1 out of every 5 Belgians suffers from IBS. Because of the abnormally strong contraction of the bowel, intestinal problems are caused. The bowel usually has contractions to get rid of waste from the body. In IBS, these contractions, however, are so abnormal that they cause pain and intestinal problems.

It can also occur that the intestinal problems are not caused by the abnormal contraction of the bowel, but rather by an overly sensitive intestinal wall. For some people with IBS the bowel functions normally, but the intestinal wall experiences stimuli which the intestinal wall should not normally perceive.

There thus are two reasons as to why intestinal problems occur in IBS. They can occur either separately or together.

What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea, eventually alternating with constipation
  • Constipation, eventually alternating with diarrhea
  • Bloated feeling
  • Gassiness
  • Constant fatigue
  • Back complaints
  • Difficulties urinating
  • Stomach complaints
  • Headache
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Pain during intercourse

What are the causes of irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome can have different causes. However, not a lot is known about the causes. We know that the intestinal muscles and intestinal wall are more sensitive in IBS than they normally are. IBS is likely to be triggered by a combination of different causes. Except for the intestinal wall and intestinal muscles, stress and eating habits can also influence IBS.

Stress in irritable bowel syndrome?

Just like on the rest of the body, tension and stress have an influence on the intestines. Emotions can cause a physical reaction, just like stress. For example, think of times right before exams or presentations. Right before your exam or presentation, chances are that you have to use the bathroom often. Different studies already confirm the influence of emotions and stress on the body. It therefore is useful to test your stress level, if you suffer from intestinal problems or irritable bowel syndrome. That way you can namely reduce or suppress your complaints.

The influence of eating habits on irritable bowel syndrome?

Thanks to the broader choice in food, our eating habits have changed. Ready meals, fast food and candy have a poor influence on IBS. These types of food contain less fibre. Healthy food is better for your intestines, but it is as of yet unclear what role they play in IBS. There is no special diet which can help in case of IBS, either.