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Why Some People Get IBS All The Sudden

So did you start having digestive symptoms or IBS all the sudden? Maybe you are wondering if people can get IBS all of a sudden and why this might happen.  This article will discuss why people get IBS all of a sudden. Yes, sometimes this does happen.  Specifically, the article will discuss three of the most common things that are going on to cause this. They include:

  • Infectious which including the process of inflammation
  • Stress and the nervous system
  • Susceptibility and genetics


If this interests you, keep reading.

Can An Infection Trigger IBS All The Sudden?

The three topics mentioned above are what come to mind with, why some people get IBS all the sudden.  The first and most prominent is a post infectious trigger.  Typically this infectious trigger is  from a bacteria, virus, or even a parasite that gets into your digestive tract, usually from eating contaminated food.  These bugs trigger a local inflammatory response.  This inflammation is categorically what we call enteritis or inflammation in the intestines.  When you get food poisoning this is referred to as Enteritis, for instance. 

Typically infections like this are self-limiting. The body takes care of it. Sometimes you need to take antibiotics.  In either case your body gets rid of it.  There may be  a week or two of intestinal imbalance, like diarrhea bloating etc.  The normal response is for your digestion to go back to it's normal state after a few weeks of this imbalance. 

Understanding IBS

When you have Post Infectious IBS, the lingering digestive symptoms are from the bugs and their lingering effects.  The typical bugs that cause this are viruses, bacteria, and parasites.  On the viral side, the viruses are norovirus and other viruses that cause the flu.  On the bacterial side the bugs can be E. coli, Salmonella, and even Clostridium difficile.  Clostridium is a bacteria that people typically get from being exposed to it in the hospital or from taking antibiotics for long periods of time.  So once those bugs are either taken care of by our body or treated with anti-microbial, your body should balance things back out. 

You may be asking,  "what happens to the people that they don't get better?" 

Typically, persistent digestive symptoms post infection is caused by an ongoing inflammatory state.  In this case, the natural inflammatory and repair process that's built in the body is being triggered properly.  More details on this and what to do about it will be the subject of another post. 

What is Post-Infectious IBS? (coming soon)


Can Stress Can Trigger IBS?

this kind of stress could trigger ibs

The second thing to talk about as a possible cause for getting IBS all of a sudden is stress.  We all experience stress of different levels from one day to the next. Some people more than others.  If you experienced a major stressful event, the activity in your central nervous system will be up-regulated (stimulated). With this the nerve endings in your digestive tract will also be more stimulated. This may lead to dys-regulation in the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system is the digestive tracts independent self contained nerve regulation system.  

If you have a really acute stressful event, especially if it goes on for long periods of time, it can create dysfunction in how your digestive tract receives signals.  The nerve endings inside the digestive tract are responsive to systemic stressors (rumination, job stress, family stress, etc).  Sometimes these systemic stressors can cause too much stimulation or too little stimulation to the enteric nerves leading to imbalance.  This can then change many things but may manifest as a change in how quickly your stools are flowing through your digestive tract .  If it's too much stimulation typically we expect more diarrhea and too little with expect more constipation.  Click below for more on stress and


What Causes A Person To Develop Anxiety?


The stress and biochemicals from the stress, like adrenaline can and do change bowel function.  So if you're experiencing chronic stress for months or years, it is likely part of the IBS picture.  When the IBS symptoms come on all of a sudden and in close proximity to a big stressor, you can be sure it is playing a role.  When the stressor is there for a long time it can lead to chronic IBS.  Often times with longstanding IBS, there is a psychological or stress component. 


Genetic Factors For Sudden IBS Onset

The last thing to consider on this question, why people get IBS all of a sudden is genetics and susceptibility.  We all know that there is a layer of susceptibility in any health issues.  The same is true for IBS. By the way this still applies for acute onset IBS or IBS all the sudden.  The reason one person ends up with chronic digestive problems and the next person does not is likely from genetic factors.  Some of these are know and some are still being discovered.  We will look at the known genetic factors. 

The first one that comes to mind involves a protein that influences the strength of your microbiome.  We know that probiotics or the good bacterial flora in your digestive tract. These bacteria function best when they live in an ecosystem of diversity and abundance.  As a whole these bacteria are referred to as your microbiome.  Variances in the FUT2 genotypes may account for decreased numbers of bacteria.  People with more alterations in FUT2 are more susceptible to many digestive health issues like Crohn's and other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

The gene itself is involved with production and utilization of prebiotics.  Prebiotic's are the food for the good bacteria.  With decreased food for the bacteria they are less likely to survive and thrive.   There are many of the FUT2 variations and it is not clear if one is more important than the others.  However when you have a lot of variants in this gene, it suggest this may be part of the problem and one area to focus on. 

There are also genes associated with the digestion of dairy (lactose) and gluten.  When there are many alterations in the gluten variants, it suggest more susceptibility to Celiac's.  However there are a lot of different gene combinations that lead to increased susceptibility to Celiac's.  It's not just one gene or one combination.  Still, the presence of certain gene alterations does markedly increase the risk of developing Celiac's. We will discuss these specific ones below.  It is also important to note that even when one has all the worst combination of susceptible genes, it does not mean they have celiac's.  It simply means increased susceptibility. 

The most common variants associated with Celiac's are HLA-DQ.  However, there are many many different variations of these HLA-DQ genes. If you have a lot of  variations in these, it could lead to a more inflammatory response to gluten. Specifically it is the HLA-DQ 2.5 that seems to be the worst culprit.  Alterations in the KIAA1109 also lead to a strong susceptibility to Celiac's.  Again there's not just one variant or one combination but these are the worst offenders. 

Poor breakdown of lactose can also cause problems.  If you're not breaking down your lactose, which is normal as we get older, it can lead to more intestinal inflammation.  Some people are variated in their genetics allowing them to continue to break down lactose.  If you don't have this variation, lactose may be causing or compounding your digestive issues.  

Then there is the general repair process which involves methylation.  If you don't have enough methylation factors it can slow down cell and tissue repair.  Problems with MTHFR and B12 and other enzymes in the methylation pathway could do this. 

You can read more about methylation and MTHFR here.


Then, lastly there is clearance of histamines.  If you're not breaking down your histamine inside the digestive tract that could also lead to more susceptibility when you have a stressful event or when you have the infectious agent that does get into your digestive tract


It's clear that some people do get IBS all the sudden and have trouble getting over it.  If this is you, and you want help getting your digestion and health back on track, click on the link below to get started. 


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