What Causes IBS and The Tests You Need If You Have It

When I was diagnosed with IBS, no Doctor or Gastroenterologist could give me a reason why I was suddenly experiencing such extreme digestive issues whereas a few short years prior, I was just fine. Being told that there was no reason for IBS developing, left me frustrated and confused. Why was I suffering so badly when everyone around me was just fine? So much time was spent crying when my stomach was ballooned up to the point of pain. I just didn’t get it.

Thankfully, research has now caught up and there is a solid understanding of what causes IBS. Simply put, IBS is a result of a change in the gut microbiome and a disruption in the Enteric Nervous System (the “ENS”).

The gut microbiome is a complex community of microorganisms. Various lifestyle and diet factors can lead to an alteration in the microbiome which, in turn, causes IBS symptoms. This can be a lack of good bacteria, bacteria in the wrong place (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth), yeast proliferation, parasitic or bacterial infection or a combination of these. If you have had or experienced any of the following in the last few months and now have chronic gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea there is a good chance that something is going on in the gut microbiome:

  • antibiotic use (without using a probiotic afterwards)
  • NSAID use
  • birth control
  • stress
  • binge drinking
  • low fibre diet
  • poor diet in general
  • eating disorders
  • antacid use
  • food poisoning

The Enteric Nervous System (“ENS”) is one of the main divisions of the nervous system that governs the function of the gastrointestinal system, including digestion and motility.  It’s quite literally the brain of your gut and is referred to as the Second Brain.  When the ENS is thrown off- which can occur from a multitude of factors including stress, lack of sleep and gut infection- digestion and motility go out the window.

Some people may need to address the ENS more than the gut microbiome when treating IBS and vice versa.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of IBS or GI issues- bloating, gas, belching, constipation, diarrhoea- there are two tests that can give you a good picture of what is going on in your digestive system: the Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) and a SIBO Breath Test.

The CDSA can show what good bacteria you have (or are lacking), any bad bacteria, yeast, parasites, digestive markers and inflammation levels.

The SIBO breath test will show if there are any bacteria present in the small intestine, which is a common culprit of IBS symptoms. Up to 84% of people with IBS symptoms have SIBO.

With these two tests, your health practitioner can tailor treatment accordingly.

Contact me if you want to get control over IBS!

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