What was in this article

  1. What Causes IBS?

  2. IBS and Hormones 

  3. Why do I have IBS? 

  4. 1. Increased gut sensitivity

  5. 2. Problems digesting food

  6. 3. Psychological factors may cause as well as trigger IBS

  7. References

What Causes IBS?

IBS and Hormones 

Experts are divided over what exactly causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) but there is some evidence that your gut has become oversensitive and has problems digesting food1. 


This may help explain to those of you, who despite doing everything possible to lead a healthy life, still get flare ups. There are common triggers which people often report can cause IBS to flare up. 

Why do I have IBS? 

Although it isn’t exactly clear what causes IBS, it is believed that those who suffer may have any, or all three of the following1


  • Increased gut sensitivity 
  • Problems digesting food 
  • Psychological factors


We’ll talk you through each one in turn…


1. Increased gut sensitivity

There is a theory that people with IBS might be oversensitive to their nerve signals during digestion1.


Your nerves may be over eager to tell your brain that you are hungry or full, or that you need to go to the loo so a bout of indigestion could feel more like extra painful abdominal pain.


If this sounds familiar, it could help explain why, for example, indigestion seems to be a lot more painful for you than your friends.

2. Problems digesting food

In a normally functioning digestive system, food moves naturally through your gut thanks to a rhythmic squeezing and relaxing of muscles. If something affects your natural rhythm it can cause symptoms of IBS. For example, if food is pushed through too fast, you can get diarrhoea, or if it is slowed down too much – constipation1.


Signals between your brain and your gut can disrupt this normal process. So, if you are suffering from unusual bowel movements you should talk to your doctor as there are treatments that can help regulate this process.


For more information on improving your digestion and IBS non-medically, as well as medically, visit our product finder page.

3. Psychological factors may cause as well as trigger IBS

Sometimes the last thing you need is someone telling you IBS symptoms are all in the mind. Yet IBS could be made worse by stress and anxiety. The theory is that a build-up of chronic stress can cause your body’s immune system to be less effective at handling anything that’s thrown at you - including infections too2.


We have more information here on breaking the stress-IBS cycle


All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. For further advice please speak to your doctor or pharmacist. If you think you have IBS, always consult your doctor to get a full medical diagnosis.

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