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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (cont.)

What causes irritable bowel syndrome?

  • IBS is not contagious, inherited, or cancerous. It occurs more often in women than in men, and the onset occurs before the age of 35 in about half of the cases. IBS occurs in 5% to 20% of children.
  • IBS also has developed after episodes of gastroenteritis.
  • It has been suggested that IBS is caused by dietary allergies or food sensitivities, but this has not been proven.
  • Genetics also is suggested as a potential cause of IBS, but so far a hereditary link has not been found.
  • Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome may worsen during periods of stress or during menstruation, but these factors are unlikely to be the cause that leads to the development of IBS.

What are the risk factors for irritable bowel syndrome?

Risk factors for IBS include:

  • Abnormal (too fast or slow, or too strong) movements of the colon and small intestines
  • Hypersensitivity to pain caused by gas or full bowels
  • A viral or bacterial infection of the stomach and intestines (gastroenteritis)
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Reproductive hormones or neurotransmitters may be off-balance in people with IBS.

Anxiety or depression may accompany IBS, though they have not been found to be a direct cause of IBS.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/25/2016
Medical Editor:

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Symptoms

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Foods to Avoid

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Preventive

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Irritable Bowel Disease »

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional GI disorder characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits in the absence of specific and unique organic pathology.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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