There are a number of conditions and infections that may contribute to IBS symptoms such as gas, diarrhoea and constipation. These can include small intestinal bacteria overgrowth, gastroenteritis or parasites.
Low stomach acid and digestive enzymes
As we get older our ability to produce stomach acid and digestive enzymes can fall, making it more difficult to digest our food and leading to IBS symptoms such as bloating, gas and heartburn. Some medications also impact stomach acid.
Antibiotics, protein pump inhibitors (PPIs) and over-the-counter heartburn medications can all impact our digestion and lead to symptoms. Antibiotics in particular, affect our gut bacteria and thus our gut function, whilst PPIs and heartburn meds impact stomach acid levels.
Drug use, smoking and alcohol
Heavy use of alcohol and cigarettes can result in heartburn, low stomach acid, constipation and bloating, all of which are symptoms of IBS. Long-term drug and alcohol abuse may also lead to more serious gut conditions.
Sex hormones, particularly oestrogen, have been linked to gastrointestinal symptoms as they affect the function of the GI tract and IBS is twice as likely to occur in women as in men.
Regular exercise can help to manage stress and to support our digestive function. Living a sedentary lifestyle may therefore contribute to a sluggish bowel and result in IBS symptoms such as bloating and constipation.
Water is essential for optimum digestion and is vital to relieve constipation and to remain hydrated if you are suffering from diarrhoea.