Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a relapsing functional bowel disorder in which abdominal pain or discomfort is associated with defecation or a change in bowel habit. Bloating and distension are often associated. IBS is defined by symptom-based diagnostic criteria, in the absence of detectable organic causes.
Scientists in the University of Adelaides Nerve-Gut Research Laboratory have now demonstrated the mechanisms involved, and the differences between the immune pain response in healthy people and those suffering from IBS. The results of their work have been published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
This study is the first to give us a real understanding of the interaction between the immune system and pain symptoms in IBS patients, says lead author Dr Patrick Hughes, NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellow with the Universitys School of Medicine.
The gut contains specialised immune cells, known as monocytes and macrophages. Our research has shown that in healthy people, these immune cells normally secrete opioid chemicals, like morphine, that block pain. But in people with IBS, the opioid production by these cells is defective, he says.
So its no wonder that people with IBS are experiencing ongoing periods of unexplained pain. And if the immune system is …
If you have IBS with diarrhoea, you may find it helps to cut down on the insoluble fibre you eat. It may also help to avoid the skin, pith and pips from fruit and vegetables.
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