What are possible infection-related causes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Updated: Dec 11, 2019
  • Author: Jenifer K Lehrer, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Colonic muscle hyperreactivity and neural and immunologic alterations of the colon and small bowel may persist after gastroenteritis. Psychological comorbidity independently predisposes the patient to the development of postinfectious irritable bowel syndrome. Psychological illness may create a proinflammatory cytokine milieu, leading to irritable bowel syndrome through an undefined mechanism after acute infection.

Infection with Giardia lamblia has been shown to lead to an increased prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome, as well as chronic fatigue syndrome. In a historic cohort study of patients with G lamblia infection as detected by stool cysts, the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome was 46.1% for as long as 3 years after exposure, compared with 14% in controls. [16]

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