What Are the Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Am I at Risk?


The gastrointestinal condition known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can impact your daily life in many ways. Causing irritation in the stomach, large intestine, and other parts of the digestive tract, irritable bowel syndrome often leads to uncomfortable and (at times) distressing symptoms.

At Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates, we understand the unpleasant symptoms IBS may have on your daily comfort, health, and quality of living. Our gastrointestinal doctors regularly treat IBS in New Orleans, LA individuals and can help you ease its effects. Keep reading to learn what factors might contribute to this GI condition and whether you might be at risk for developing IBS.

How does IBS develop?

The cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not known at this time. It’s believed to result from an interference between the brain (which is in charge of gut function) and the gastrointestinal system, causing many professionals to reference it as “the brain-gut disorder.” This disconnect can produce motility complications within a person’s digestive tract, causing the muscles to move food through the GI system either too fast or too slowly. Irritable bowel syndrome is also called “spastic colon” as a result of the colon spasms that generally accompany the disorder.

There are a number of factors that may be IBS triggers, including:

  • Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and soda
  • Changes in the microbial makeup of the intestines
  • Intestinal infections (bacterial or viral gastroenteritis)
  • A diet containing fatty and spicy foods
  • Stress
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Alcohol use

Knowing IBS triggers and your likelihood of developing the condition can help you better manage your body’s response should you be diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.

What are IBS risk factors?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a complex GI condition, and various factors may combine to elicit the condition's appearance or recurrence. Factors that could increase the risk of IBS involve:

  • Lifestyle choices: Poor diet, insufficient exercise, alcohol and/or tobacco use, and obesity may elevate the chance of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Being a woman: Irritable bowel syndrome is twice as common among women than men.
  • Family history: Some people might be genealogically predisposed to irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Mental health: Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, can increase the chances of IBS.
  • Age: Patients of almost every age group may experience irritable bowel syndrome, but it typically develops during the teenage years or early adulthood. It is less frequent in individuals over 50.

If you worry you might be at risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome or other GI concerns, we encourage you to request an appointment at a Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates location near you.

What are the common symptoms of IBS?

Irritable bowel symptoms can vary from person to person. Furthermore, IBS symptoms in women can differ from IBS symptoms in men and can range in degree of severity. Many patients who have irritable bowel syndrome experience only mild effects. Some of the common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include:

If you have any of these symptoms or recognize a change in your bathroom habits, we urge you to schedule an appointment with a GI specialist. Our GI doctors in New Orleans, LA can review your symptoms to determine if irritable bowel syndrome is to blame.

How is IBS treated?

Preventing irritable bowel syndrome is not always possible, but steps can be taken to help reduce the effects. Treatment for irritable bowel syndrome often involves long-term management of symptoms to help control this condition. Reducing associated symptoms and managing the condition might involve lifestyle modifications, including following a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, and staying away from common IBS triggers. Certain medications can also help alleviate IBS symptoms, like antidepressant, anti-diarrheal, anti-nausea, and anticholinergic medications. Fiber supplements or laxatives may be prescribed to help address underlying issues that can provoke the disorder.

Receive irritable bowel syndrome treatment in New Orleans, LA

Beyond causing discomforting symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome makes many people feel hopeless and defeated. Rest assured that it is possible to find relief from this chronic ailment. Our team at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates offers specialized care for irritable bowel syndrome and can lead you and/or your loved one to better health. To find out more about your risks, irritable bowel syndrome self-care, or to find a GI doctor who treats IBS in New Orleans, LA, please contact our team to request an appointment.

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