As is the case with most syndromes, the irritable bowel syndrome is made up of different signs and symptoms. IBS has not been shown to lead to serious disease, such as cancer. Over time, other terminologies have also been developed for IBS, for example colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, or spastic bowel. However, no link has been established between IBS and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
If a patient has extremely severe symptoms and it affects their way of life, you can just consider that they are going to feel some stress about that, and a lot of patients will say, “Well, I didn’t truly have depression, or my mood was not really bad before, it’s simply that I feel so impaired in my life.” You can find many of them saying that while they did not have depression or mood swings before; their decreased functionality has made them feel helpless.
Irritable bowel syndrome can also be complicated by non-gastrointestinal symptoms, taking place simultaneously or accelerated due to IBS. One very common symptom is fatigue. Difficulty in sleeping is another. What makes it worse is that when patients do not sleep well, the body is unable to recharge and heal itself, thus leading to worse bowel symptoms the following day. There have been studies that attest to this.
The additional aspect of irritable bowel syndrome is the fact it coexists with other problems, where you may have symptoms which might be outside of the gastro-intestinal tract. One example is fibromyalgia, a condition indicated by persistent pain of the muscles. With most patients, the chronic muscle pain, which is obviously external of the GI tract, is actually developed due to IBS. IBS patients can develop other conditions where they will have other symptoms, and a patient who becomes more severe, they will tend to have more of these non-gastrointestinal symptoms, either related to a diagnosable medical condition like migraine headaches or fibromyalgia.
IBS is also associated with two other conditions: the leaky gut syndrome and gut dysbiosis, where it is manifested as a small intestine bacterial overgrowth or SIBO. Other than that, IBS may also be linked to various environmental illnesses. IBS is sometimes diagnosed in people who have also been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Gulf war syndrome (GWS) and autism. The most recent studies are now starting to identify the link between IBS and other chronic illnesses, and are looking into the possible causes for this connection.
Much of the research made has been focused on the connection of SIBO in most of these conditions, particularly in CFS and fibromyalgia. Just as SIBO has been found to be common in IBS patients, recent research has also found this to be the case with fibromyalgia and CFS. It was found that SIBO is common in both IBS and fibromyalgia patients.
Interestingly, they found that SIBO seemed to be more severe in fibromyalgia patients and the severity of the SIBO in specific patients correlated strongly with the intensity of the pain they experienced. Based on this finding, would it be possible to make speculations that if an IBS patient experienced severe SIBO he would also be developing fibromyalgic pain? Only further research can answer that question.