Irritable Bowel Syndrome is Real, Not In Your Head
Have you experienced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and been told that it’s all in your head? Now scientists have discovered tiny inflammations in the intestinal tract, proof that IBS is not an imaginary condition.
According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, IBS is the most common functional gastrointestinal disorder in the world, affecting 10 to 15 percent of people in the United States and 9 to 23 percent of people worldwide. About 70 percent of people with IBS experience mild symptoms, which include pain or discomfort in the abdomen that usually improves after a bowel movement, alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation, heartburn, abdominal fullness, nausea, and bloating. The remaining 30 percent have moderate to severe symptoms and are most likely to seek medical help.
By definition, a functional disorder is one for which there are no structural or biochemical abnormalities observable on common diagnostic tests that can explain the symptoms. Along with the bowel symptoms, people with IBS often also experience problems with sleep, headaches, and backaches. Available treatments for IBS have been largely disappointing.
New Study of Irritable Bowel Syndrome discovers organic trigger
Now, however, structural changes in the intestinal tract (gut) have been found. Biologists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have observed mini-inflammations in the mucosa of the gut, which can interfere with the balance of the bowel and sensitize the enteric nervous system. This is the first time an organic trigger for IBS has been discovered.
Professor Michael Schemann and his research team used ultrafast optical measuring techniques to uncover the fact that mediators from two types of cells--mast cells and enterochromaffin cells—directly impact the nerve cells in the gut. This attack on the enteric nervous system interferes with communication between the gut’s mucosa and its nervous system, causing the mucosa to release elevated amounts of substances such as histamine, protease, and serotonin, which, says Schemann, “could be the real cause of the unpleasant IBS complaints.”
This ground-breaking discovery could lead to new, effective treatments for irritable bowel syndrome. The TUM scientists are already working with colleagues from Amsterdam to find new therapies. Thus far, they have discovered that an antihistamine resulted in improved IBS symptoms. People who have irritable bowel syndrome appear to have been vindicated: their symptoms are not “in their head.” Irritable bowel syndrome is real.
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
Technische Universitaet Muenchen