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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disease that develops in your intestines. It can cause persistent abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating, and changes in stool or some combination of chronic diarrhea and constipation.

What are the types of IBS?

There are three types of IBS: IBS-D (diarrhea-predominant), IBS-C (constipation-predominant), and IBS-M (mixed-type where diarrhea and constipation both persist).  

Is IBS harmful to me?

IBS does not cause lasting harm to the bowels; however, it can severely impair you physically and emotionally. In some cases, post-infectious IBS can develop into an autoimmunity. If IBS is left untreated, the patient has an increased (4x) risk of contracting food poisoning again. Further instances of food poisoning can significantly worsen your IBS symptoms. Understanding the root cause can help you and your doctor design a personalized treatment plan so that you can start feeling healthy as quickly as possible.

What is the difference between IBS and IBD?

IBS is a disease found in your intestines that causes persistent abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating, and changes in stool - some combination of chronic diarrhea and constipation.


IBD is a disease in which the body’s immune system thinks that food in the intestine is not supposed to be there. The body then attacks the cells of the bowels, causing inflammation and ulcerations. Symptoms of IBD, like symptoms of IBS, include diarrhea and abdominal pain; however, in addition to these, IBD symptoms also include rectal bleeding, joint pain, eye irritation, and rashes.


There are two main types of IBD: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.


Here is an excellent patient guide to IBD published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology: Inflammatory Bowel Disease.



How is IBS related to SIBO?

SIBO develops when bacteria that are normally in other parts of your gut begin to grow in your small intestine, leading to bacterial overgrowth presenting symptoms such as persistent abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.


IBS, which affects the large intestine, and SIBO are closely associated and share many of the same symptoms. In fact, 80% of IBS patients have SIBO. 


If you test positive for IBS with ibs-smart, there is a strong likelihood you also have SIBO.


I have SIBO. Should I also test for IBS?

SIBO has many causes other than IBS; however, 80% of IBS patients also have SIBO. If you have been diagnosed with SIBO, ibs-smart can help identify the root cause.

What causes IBS?

Based on the most current scientific research, we now know that food poisoning could be the cause of 60-70% of cases of IBS with diarrhea.  This means that food poisoning is the leading known cause of IBS. Other proven causes of IBS have not been discovered. While trauma, stress, and anxiety may contribute to the severity of IBS symptoms, psychological factors are no longer considered to be causes of IBS. 


How is food poisoning linked to IBS?

All of the most common types of bacteria that cause food poisoning release a toxin known as CdtB when infecting the body. This prompts an immune response through the creation of an antibody, anti-CdtB. Elevated anti-CdtB levels indicate IBS. 

Additionally, CdtB looks similar to vinculin, a naturally occurring protein required for healthy gut function. Because of this similarity in structure, your body is tricked into producing anti-vinculin antibodies which attack and damage the gut, leading to the development of autoimmunity and worsening of IBS symptoms.

How is IBS diagnosed?

Recently, scientists have identified biomarkers for IBS (anti-CdtB and anti-vinculin) that are measurable in a patient's blood. While these biomarkers do not indicate all forms of IBS, they are effective in diagnosing the majority of IBS-D and IBS-M cases. ibs-smart is the only licensed and patented blood test for the diagnosis of IBS.

In the past, IBS has traditionally been diagnosed by multiple tests to exclude the possibility of other diseases. If, through this process, no other health issues are found, a diagnosis of IBS is made. Additional testing can include colonoscopy, endoscopy, stool test, radiography, celiac panel, and a GI breath test.

However, The latest ACG guidelines for managing IBS suggest “a positive diagnostic strategy” (ruling in IBS) as compared to “a diagnostic strategy of exclusion” (ruling out other diseases) “ improve time to initiate appropriate therapy...and to improve cost-effectiveness." An antibody blood test provides this positive diagnostic strategy.

Can IBS be cured?

At this time, there is not a known cure for IBS; however, with the right treatments, symptoms can be managed effectively and, for some, can resolve completely over time.

How is IBS treated?

While we cannot provide you with personalized guidance for treatment, there are effective, FDA-approved drugs and therapies available. We encourage you to bring your ibs-smart results to your healthcare provider to discuss your treatment options. 

The ACG Guidelines for the Management of IBS recommend various treatments and therapies for global IBS symptoms. Some therapies include, the low FODMAP diet, peppermint oil, an antibiotic called Rifaximin, and soluble fiber, among others. 

Read about the Clinical Guidelines for IBS treatment published by the American College of Gastroenterology here.

How is IBS treated?
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