According to experts and research, we don’t actually know the root cause of irritable bowel syndrome. The reason being is there is no biomarker that indicates a clear physical disease from medical tests, like there is for cancer or Crohn’s Disease. However, if I had to guess what caused my IBS, I would blame it on a traumatic food poisoning experience I went through back in 2009. Here’s the short version of the story:
In the summer of 2009, I attended a baby shower, which is where the Armageddon occurred in my stomach and bowels. I can’t recall everything I consumed that night, but I do remember having a beer alongside some antacids that didn’t mix so well in my stomach. This all resulted in the worst diarrhea I had ever dealt with and extreme nausea the next day. A few weeks later I was still suffering symptoms of food poisoning so I decided to see a specialist about it, and the specialist then prescribed me some medication. The meds didn’t seem to work because weeks later, I was still suffering from the constant bathroom trips, nausea, and stomach pain. The specialist then recommended a colonoscopy and endoscopy, which concluded in them finding a bacterial infection in my stomach called Helicobacter Pylori. I was then prescribed antibiotics to get rid of the infection, and it worked, the bacteria died. However, the symptoms remained and it took 5 more years of undergoing numerous tests and appointments until I got diagnosed with IBS.
Hitting the books
After some digging, I found out it is very possible that I am victim of post-infectious IBS, which is getting the disease as a result of food poisoning or infection. According to Dr. Mark Pimentel, who is the Director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in his book, “A New IBS Solution”, he talks about research being conducted in Europe that suggests “that food poisoning and certain types of parasitic infection (primarily amoeba, Cryptosporidium parvum, and giardia, each of which can be contracted by drinking contaminated water) may precipitate what is known as ‘post-infectious IBS’.” (pg. 38) So, in other words, it is believed and to some extent, proven that food poisoning could lead to irritable bowel syndrome.
Dr. Pimentel goes on to mention that back in the early 2000’s, another study was done that further proves this claim. European researchers took “biopsies of the rectums of IBS patients known to have had food poisoning as the cause of their IBS. Their research showed that there were increased white blood cell counts in the lining of the rectums of patients with post-infectious IBS.” (pg. 42) This showed that even after the bacteria was gone, patients were still suffering from inflammation, and thus still feeling symptoms. Based on this information and the numerous other studies performed on patients who suffer from post-infectious IBS, I believe it is safe to assume that I got IBS as a result of my baby-shower-food-poisoning incident.
Remembering my first symptoms
I can vividly remember the traumatic event that led to post-infectious IBS in the summer of 2009. I’ll never forget the painful and embarrassing moment when I had to use the toilet so bad that I almost went on myself in public because of what I now think was food poisoning. Ever since then, my life has been a rollercoaster, a freaking nerve-racking one, but one that has made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. Can you remember the first time you started suffering from IBS symptoms and what might have caused it?