Although there is not a conclusive cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), doctors and researchers are able to connect a variety of factors that play a role in the disease and the severity of the symptoms. The symptoms of IBS occur while food is moving through the digestive tract. The muscles contract and relax in rhythm as food is moving through the system. Those with IBS often feel stronger or long lasting contractions, leading to discomfort, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. They could also feel the opposite symptoms – weak intestinal contractions often lead to slower digestion and hard, dry stool. There are many different triggers that can cause worsening symptoms, including certain foods, stress, hormones, and other illnesses. 

What Causes IBS?

Doctors are unsure of the exact cause of IBS, and there may be several different causes for different patients. One of those causes can be a lack of balance in “good” and “bad” bacteria in the digestive system. When the “bad” bacteria overtake the “good,” patients with IBS will often experience inflammatory symptoms that will then manifest themselves in the physical discomforts mentioned above.

What Should I Do?

So how can people experiencing IBS symptoms due to an imbalance in bacteria help themselves and reduce the symptoms? Recent studies are showing an increased importance of regular probiotic use to help control the discomfort associated with IBS. Probiotics can be found in different forms – fermented foods and drinks or supplements in the forms of pills, capsules, and powders. When taken regularly, they can reduce the severity and frequency of the symptoms.  Not only did the probiotics lead to healthier digestive functions, it had the side benefit of reducing cases of depression. The study showed that after a 6-week treatment of probiotics, overall GI symptoms and quality of life had improved in the test subjects. The test subjects were also evaluated with MRIs, which revealed a significant reduction in response to negative emotional stimuli. 

How Can GI Associates Help?

Adding a probiotic to your diet can be such a simple step in improving both overall health and digestive health. As with any medication, talk with your doctor at GI Associates to determine if it is the right step for your treatment. You can make an appointment with one of our doctors to discuss any of your concerns.

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