IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most debilitating body conditions that cause several troublesome symptoms and leave many people with chronic pain and discomfort. Making things worse, it is not well-understood, and most doctors cannot make a prompt diagnosis.
A recent study by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium may have uncovered the underlying cause of this intestinal disorder. According to the study, researchers have discovered similarities between how people with allergies react to food and how IBS patients experience abdominal pain and other common symptoms.
Researchers are confident that this discovery will open numerous doors to bring new treatments and be key to several therapies to ease symptoms and improve a patient’s lifestyle with IBS. The CDC’s statistical data shows that around 1 in 5 people deal with IBS and experience various symptoms, such as abdominal pain, cramping, altered bowel habits, alternative diarrhea and constipation, and bloating.
Gluten-free diets are proven to be effective for such patients and can provide symptomatic relief. According to a gastroenterologist team, people with IBS often experience symptoms after food poisoning, and opting for a gluten-free diet can help reduce the onset of symptoms.
Treating IBS like a food allergy?
In a recent study, scientists have injected mice with a stomach bug and an egg white protein to provoke an immune response. After subsiding the active inflammation, the egg white protein was again injected into the mice to see how their immune systems would react and if it had become sensitized to the protein.
The study concluded that the mice had inflammatory bowel syndrome, along with increased abdominal pain and digestive intolerance. Researchers then successfully unfolded several events related to the immune response that connects to the mast cells’ activation – after the digestion of egg white protein. More importantly, the stimulated immune response was noted only in the part of the large intestine infected by the stomach bug (disruptive bacteria), and it did not produce generalized symptoms.
Scientists then experimented the same thing with 12 irritable bowel syndrome patients. They discovered that 10 out of 12 people reacted in almost the similar way as the mice. The findings also showed that treating such patients with anti-allergic medications resulted in a lot of symptomatic-improvement.
According to the study’s lead author, most physicians don’t take these patients seriously. The lack of an exaggerated immune response towards an allergen creates the argument that the issue is “all in the mind” of the patient and that they don’t have anything wrong with their gut. However, with these new findings, we have provided concrete evidence that IBS is a real disease that causes inflammation of the large intestine and often triggered by activation of mast cells secondary to a food allergen.
What causes mast cells’ activation is important to determine and understand the underlying phenomenon. It will also lead to the production of novel treatments and therapies that ease the disease’s troublesome symptoms and improve the living standard of a patient.