Gastroenteritis is the only risk factor doctors definitely know is caused by irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. However, researchers are baffled by the fact that certain individuals are prone to developing IBS symptoms while others are not.


This condition is sometimes referred to as the “stomach flu” or infectious gastroenteritis. It is a condition caused by pathogens like bacteria or viruses or even parasites that causes vomiting and/or diarrhea. Oftentimes gastroenteritis is caused by viruses, is rampant during the winter season and can be acquired by eating unclean or uncooked foods. This disease is quite contagious and widespread because people often eat foods that are not cooked well enough; however, not all people who get gastroenteritis will develop IBS.  Actually only about a fourth of gastroenteritis cases develop to IBS. A study done in Spain revealed that people who acquired gastroenteritis due to salmonella poisoning were highly likely (about 8X more likely) to get IBS later on.

Other Potential Risk Factors for development of IBS

Some other ways why certain individuals get IBS:

  • High or low levels of serotonin – Serotonin controls the movement of bowels in the body
  • Excessive or low amounts of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine
  • Neural dysfunction in the gastrointestinal tract – Problems in the way the intestinal nerves function affect the way the intestines move bowels in the body. These problems also distort the way the intestines function. Example, you may feel that your intestines are full but actually are not
  • Colon inflammation that damages the walls of the colon making the person at risk of developing IBS

Food and Stress

Some sufferers of IBS activate its symptoms by drinking or consuming certain drinks and foods respectively. Some of these drinks and foods include:

  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products
  • Fatty foods

Some of IBS sufferers may have a colon that can easily weaken due to stress. IBS patients often report flare up of their symptoms after experiencing a stressful situation.


Females are more prone to IBS symptoms than men at least in the United States. Women are likely to experience IBS during their menstrual period probably due to hormonal changes although other GI symptoms other than IBS can also be experienced by other women during their period.

Because there is no known clear-cut cause for IBS, no real cure for it can be made. Happily, IBS is not a chronic or long-term disease and there are many ways that people can avail of to relieve its symptoms.

Jamie Catlett is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist in Jacksonville, FL and the founder of Jacksonville Acupuncture Clinic.