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Probiotics In Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

- 8 min read
written by Shield Connect

Let’s discuss what really is IBS and role of Probiotics for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Let’s discuss what really is IBS and role of Probiotics for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both. IBS is a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term.

Good news is that only a small number of people with IBS have severe signs and symptoms. While some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle, and stress. Patients with more-severe symptoms can be treated with medication and counseling.

The most important thing to know is that IBS doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.


  • Abdominal pain and cramping that usually comes and goes, with relief after a bowel movement.
  • Bloating and gas
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Feeling like you need to have a second bowel movement right after finishing one (often with no results)
  • Mucus in your stool
  • Weight loss, Diarrhea at night, Unexplained vomiting, Difficulty swallowing, Persistent pain that isn’t relieved by-passing gas or a bowel movement are more serious symptoms which needs urgent discussion with a doctor.


The precise cause of IBS is not known. Factors that appear to play a role include:

  • Muscle contractions in the intestine. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract as they move food through your digestive tract. Contractions that are stronger and last longer than normal can cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. Weak intestinal contractions can slow food passage and lead to hard, dry stools.
  • Nervous system. Abnormalities in the nerves in your digestive system may cause you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can cause your body to overreact to changes that normally occur in the digestive process, resulting in pain, diarrhea or constipation.
  • Severe infection. IBS can develop after a severe bout of diarrhea (gastroenteritis) caused by bacteria or a virus. IBS might also be associated with a surplus of bacteria in the intestines (bacterial overgrowth).
  • Early life stress. People exposed to stressful events, especially in childhood, tend to have more symptoms of IBS.
  • Changes in gut microbes. Examples include changes in bacteria, fungi and viruses, which normally reside in the intestines and play a key role in health. Research indicates that the microbes in people with IBS might differ from those in healthy people.

Risk factors

IBS is common below age of 50 and occurs most often in women. People with a family history of IBS are more likely to have it. A history of sexual, physical or emotional abuse also might be a risk factor.


Chronic constipation or diarrhea can cause hemorrhoids.

In addition, IBS is associated with Poor quality of life (Research indicates that people with IBS miss three times as many days from work as do those without bowel symptoms) and Mood disorders (Experiencing the signs and symptoms of IBS can lead to depression or anxiety. Depression and anxiety also can make IBS worse).

Can Irritable Bowel Syndrome be prevented or avoided?

Since there is not a single cause for IBS, you can’t prevent or avoid it.

Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The best way to treat IBS is to make lifestyle changes. Treatment is different for everyone. You may need to try several options to find the one that works for you. They may suggest you:

Visit with a dietitian for tips on foods that are easy to digest. You may need to avoid caffeine, dairy, some fruits and vegetables, spicy and fatty foods, and foods made with gluten. Gluten foods include cereal, pasta, and processed foods.

  • Eat small meals throughout the day.
  • Increase your fiber a little at a time.
  • Reduce your stress level.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Try meditation or therapy.

Take medicines. Your doctor will advise you about which ones may work for your type of IBS.

Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is an ongoing problem. It can subside or flare up, based on your lifestyle. IBS does not require surgery, and it won’t shorten your life. If you have IBS, talk to your doctor about how to manage it. Symptoms often get better with treatment.

What Are Probiotics?

Your digestive system is teeming with beneficial bacteria known as gut flora, and they play a critical role in your health. However, for various reasons the gut flora can sometimes get thrown out of balance, allowing harmful bacteria to proliferate. Probiotics are live bacteria or yeast found in foods and supplements. They are safe, similar to natural gut flora and provide health benefits.

People use them to promote a healthy, balanced gut flora. They may provide a number of health benefits, such as supporting weight loss, improving heart health, improving digestion and boosting the immune system.

Some common probiotic foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi and other fermented foods. Additionally, common probiotic strains found in supplements include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium .

How Do Probiotics Work with IBS?

A significant amount of recent research has investigated how probiotics might be used to treat and manage IBS.

Gut flora imbalances may contribute to the symptoms of IBS. Probiotics help restore balance in several ways, including by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, reducing inflammation, and slowing down the digestive system.

Can Probiotics Improve IBS Symptoms?

Probiotics from the Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces families have shown promise. Probiotics may influence the IBS symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, distension, flatulence, altered bowel movements, and gut microbiota. The nature of probiotics explains their beneficial role in intestinal function as they can protect against pathogenic bacteria via their antimicrobial properties.

Probiotics also amplify the intestinal tight junctions and stabilize the permeability. Moreover, probiotics stimulate goblet cells to enhance the intestinal barrier function, normalize bowel movements, and reduce visceral hypersensitivity in pediatric and adult patients. Several probiotic strains showed beneficial outcomes in IBS patients.

Should You Take Probiotics If You Have IBS?

Probiotics are safe, and a relatively cheap potential treatment option for IBS. Also, they have worked for some people, particularly for those with specific symptoms.

Here are some key tips when making your selection:

  • Always consult your treating doctor:do not take self-prescribe or over the counter medicines.
  • Choose an evidence-based probiotic: Select a probiotic that has research supporting it.
  • Take the right dose: Use the dosage recommended by the doctor/manufacturer.
  • Stick with one type: Try one variety for at least four weeks and monitor your symptoms.
Dr. Chrishtopher Dr Christopher S. K
Consultant Advanced Minimally Invasive Bariatric, GI & Laser Surgeon
Specialised in Endoscopy, Laser, Laparoscopic & Robotic Surgery
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