Here’s a noteworthy fact… One in nine people (11%) who develop a GI infection, like food poisoning, end up with post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome (PI-IBS). What’s the connection? How is PI-IBS diagnosed? Is it treatable? All that and more in my recent article for Epicured, “Post-Infectious IBS: Risks And Remedies”.
So, what’s the connection between a GI infection and irritable bowel syndrome? Why might one terrible acute episode lead to chronic discomfort?
We don’t know exactly what causes PI-IBS, but it’s thought to involve a variety of factors, including ongoing inflammation, increased intestinal permeability, a shift in the gut microbiome, and altered neuromuscular function. Recent research focuses on how infectious bacteria and parasites can lead to nerve damage in the GI tract, which impairs GI motility, disrupts the gut microbiome, and can lead to a buildup of bacteria in the small intestine, a condition known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Treating SIBO can be an important step in managing PI-IBS.
What’s remarkable is PI-IBS doesn’t always present immediately following the initial infection. It can take years to develop, so it’s important to scrutinize the patient’s timeline in search of clues. Sometimes I feel more like a detective than a dietitian.
Fortunately, there are well-established therapies to treat IBS, whether PI-IBS or otherwise. Check out my article to learn more about potential causes, risk factors, and treatment options.