One of the most common and now well-studied causes of IBS is post-infectious, meaning that a person develops a gastroenteritis and a large percentage of people go on to then develop irritable bowel syndrome. We define that as post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome. When you look at epidemiologic studies of outbreaks of foodborne gastroenteritis, a certain percentage of those people will go on to develop irritable bowel syndrome. So that’s very, very important cause of irritable bowel syndrome. In some studies and in some research articles, it is believed that a majority of irritable bowel syndrome starts off with an actual infection. Sometimes people are on vacation, they’re on a cruise, they specifically remember that “ever since I got sick in this country, on this trip, on that cruise, my bowels haven’t been the same.” Sometimes, however, people can’t remember. They may have had a mild gastroenteritis and they didn’t think much of it and several months later their bowels just weren’t normal and it persisted. Post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome is a very, very important cause. Gastroenteritis is a loose term that we use for inflammation of the digestive tract. Usually it’s due to some form of either foodborne or viral infection. When a person eats out at a restaurant, and eats food that wasn’t so great, and they have nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea – most of the time, that’s a self-limited form of gastroenteritis.
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