Bacteria Contribute to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Bacteria Contribute to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional disorder of the gut, where there is pain in the abdomen, bloating, and often also diarrhoea but usually no apparent structural abnormality, and it is interesting to see a report that suggests that bacteria contribute to irritable bowel syndrome.

Thus patients suffering from IBS have an upset gut but even microscopic examination of the gut lining shows nothing unusual apart sometimes from some inflammation, and no infective agents have until now actually been demonstrated as causative.

The cause of IBS has been thought to be due to over activity of parts of the gut but a recent study brings to light evidence of overgrowth of bacteria which may be a major contributory factor. The article says:

 “A new study of Greek patients shows that overgrowth of bacteria in the gut is definitively linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

It is the first to use the “gold standard” method of examining gut bacterial cultures to connect bacteria to the cause of a disease that affects some 30 million Americans.

The researchers say their findings confirm antibiotics are a successful treatment for IBS.”

“Previous studies have suggested a link between gut bacteria and IBS, but they have been based on testing methane (a by-product of bacterial fermentation) in the breath.”

“The findings, published in the May issue of Digestive Diseases and Sciences, corroborate those of previous clinical trials at Cedars-Sinai that showed antibiotics are effective against IBS.”

The author of the study, Mark Pimentel is the director of the Cedars-Sinai GI Motility Program and said recently:

 “While we found compelling evidence in the past that bacterial overgrowth is a contributing cause of IBS, making this link through bacterial cultures is the gold standard of diagnosis.”

“This clear evidence of the role bacteria play in the disease underscores our clinical trial findings, which show that antibiotics are a successful treatment for IBS.”

“Ten years ago Pimentel went against the thinking of the time when he proposed bacteria played a key role in IBS. Since then he has led clinical trials that have shown rifaximin, a targeted antibiotic absorbed only in the gut, is an effective treatment for IBS.”

There are still a lot of disorders that we not only can’t cure, but don’t even know the cause of, but this report shows that we shouldn’t give up on trying to find the root cause which has often been  concluded to be an infective agent, either bacterium or virus.

There has been perhaps, too much emphasis on alleviating people’s symptoms of many problems without any real thought as to the cause or causes which could lead to much more definitive treatment.

The suggestion that bacteria contribute to irritable bowel syndrome is hardly surprising since we know that bacteria and viruses are involved in a diverse array of human diseases and disorders.

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