A healthy colon is like a beating heart. In addition to nerves and hormones regulating movement in your colon, electrical activity in its muscles keeps the contents of your colon moving at a healthy pace, much the same way your body controls the beating of your heart.But when something goes wrong, it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), meaning that the movement in your colon speeds up (causing diarrhea) or slows down (causing constipation). When you have diarrhea, your colon doesn’t absorb enough water before the contents move out during a bowel movement. And when you have constipation, your colon absorbs too much water. In either case, you may also feel bloating, abdominal pain, and cramping.
What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Researchers haven’t yet discovered why some people experience IBS, but there are a few theories about what causes it:Abnormal serotonin levels. One dominant theory is that IBS is related to serotonin in the gut, says Steven Field, MD, a gastroenterologist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine in New York City. You may have heard of serotonin as a chemical in your brain that helps to regulate your mood. But, actually, that work is only a fraction of its job. While a percentage of your body’s serotonin is found in your brain, it is also found in the walls of your colon. There, it may regulate bowel contractions and movements and secrete fluid,