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Lifetime psychological traumas may lead to irritable bowel syndrome

November 1, 2011 - Washington

Researchers have revealed that psychological and emotional traumas experienced over a lifetime - such as the death of a loved one, divorce, natural disaster, house fire or car accident, physical or mental abuse - may lead to adult Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester found that childhood and adult traumas are more common among adults with IBS, but to a lesser degree among affected and unaffected case relatives.

In addition, general life traumas were more commonly reported than physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Of the 2623 study participants, patients reported more traumas over a lifetime than controls with traumas common before age 18 as well as after age 18.

IBS is a chronic functional gastrointestinal disorder, which for many sufferers is marked by abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation or diarrhea.

Research suggests that IBS is caused by changes in the nerves and muscles that control sensation and motility of the bowel.

Trauma may sensitise the brain and the gut, according to Dr. Yuri Saito-Loftus, who said that the results of this study indicate that patients with IBS experience or report traumas at a level higher than patients without IBS.

The results have been just released at the American College of Gastroenterology's (ACG) 76th Annual Scientific meeting in Washington, DC.


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