Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects between 10% and 15% of adults in industrialised countries.
The typical symptoms of IBS include diarrhea and/or constipation, abdominal pain and bloating.
Drs Rona Moss-Morris and Meagan Spence from England studied 620 people who had confirmed gastroenteritis caused by a bacterial infection.
None had IBS before, or indeed any serious bowel disorder.
Each participant completed a detailed questionnaire when their infection was confirmed.
|Women were more than twice as likely to have IBS as the men|
The questionnaire included questions about mood, perceived stress levels, perfectionism, illness beliefs and behaviors.
The patients were monitored 3 and 6 months later to see whether they had developed the typical symptoms of IBS.
In all, 49 people had IBS at both time points.
The researchers observed that women were more than twice as likely to have IBS as the men.
Those with IBS were more likely to have reported high levels of stress and anxiety, and psychosomatic symptoms than those who did not develop the condition.
The research team found that those with IBS were more likely to be ‘driven,' carrying on regardless until they were forced to rest.,/p>
The researchers noted that this is a pattern of behaviour which only worsens and prolongs the condition.
Although not likely to be depressed, those with IBS were more likely to take a pessimistic view of illness.
Dr Moss-Morris and colleagues concludes, “Gastroenteritis may trigger the symptoms, but cognitions, behavior and emotions may help to prolong and maintain them over time.
“This suggests that cognitive behavioural therapy may be an effective treatment.”