Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Genetic?

Written by: Arooj Paulus – B.Sc (Psychology)

Last updated date : September 29, 2022

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a medical problem marked by stomach pain, diarrhea, or constipation. It has a history of disrupting bowel motions and causing stomach pain. Patients may face hard questions from their loved ones and friends. Such as why they have this condition? One of the causes is however the presence of faulty genes. So irritable bowel syndrome is genetic as it has hereditary factors as well. Let us see in detail the role of genes in the onset of this illness.

In this article, we will discuss what is the role of genetic factors in irritable bowel syndrome. Is a faulty gene to blame? In the end, we will discuss how to prevent it and when to see the doctor.


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Chapter 1:

Genetic Factors and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

It is a common illness with a complex and mostly unclear cause. Studies suggest that between 15% to 20% of people in western countries have stomach problems. Yet, there are usually links between the illness and family history.

In recent times, the study of genes has made vast progress. Our knowledge of DNA structure and function has increased as tests. It has become more effective, simple, and affordable. In the past, research on the genes code was limited to the study of a small number of gene variations.

Due to the advancements, we can now locate the loci of DNA of various disorders present in the gene. Many experts draw their attention to this notion. Some have started looking for genetic factors that may play a part in the onset of irritable bowel syndrome.

A genetic ailment results from an anomaly in the genes. The illness is more prevalent in those who are prone to stress and commonly runs in the family. Although the exact causes of it are still unknown. Many studies have discovered many genetic factors that offer hints about its development. Studies show that a particular gene abnormality, a mutation of the SCN5A gene, is present in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. So the faulty gene affects bowel movement by disturbing the sodium channels in nerves and the smooth muscles in the large intestines.

In the light of genes studies and personal history, it is possible that other family members may also have this ailment if one member has it. Between 1% to 20% of people are genetically prone to the illness.

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Chapter 2:

Cases of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Families

Heredity

A hereditary ailment sets on by a gene variant that may typically pass down from one generation to the next. Irritable bowel syndrome is hereditary to a degree of 0 to 57%.

This raises a question. Whether the common gene is to blame for this ailment in families. Or is it a result of the same setting and way of life?

To answer this concern, studies show that first, second, and third-degree relatives have a greater chance of developing irritable bowel syndrome.

Further, twin and family studies show the genetic as well as the environmental factors for the development of this illness. Studies suggest that monozygotic twins have a higher chance with 17.2 % than dizygotic twins with a chance of 8.4%. This shows a genetic basis for the onset of this condition.

According to studies, polygenes with specific gene variants may be the cause of the ailment and the hereditary risk of getting irritable bowel syndrome. Polygenes are genes that alone have too small of an impact to detect them from one another. But when combined with other genes, they can result in a distinct variety. In other instances, a rare gene variant is the cause of the innate risk. However, polygenes are often to blame for the risk.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and genes go hand in hand, yet there is no conclusive genetic link between them. According to studies, way of life and changes in routine have a bigger impact on whether someone would get the illness or not. So there is not much data to support the idea that the illness runs in families.

Epigenetics

This field studies how a person’s surroundings and way of living alters their genes. A gene can be turned on or off by these factors because they have an impact on how a gene is expressed. For instance, if a child had stress throughout his or her childhood, then it is an environmental factor that can cause the faulty gene to express itself.

However, other studies reveal that spouses of these sufferers also have a greater chance of the onset of this ailment. This shows that other factors may be involved such as a way of life, routine or food habits, etc.

Hence, experts say that some reasons for this illness are genetic while it depends on other factors as well. Such as stress, diet, way of life, infection or food intolerances, etc.

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Chapter 3:

Can It Be Prevented?

As many factors aid in the onset of illness. There is no simple fix to this illness, even though diet, psychosocial aspects, and gut bacteria may reduce the signs of the ailment. But as a result of gene studies, we can treat the faulty genes to provide a cure for this ailment. Genetic experts are trying to search for gene therapy for irritable bowel syndrome.

Although it may be hard to prevent it if you have someone in your family who have it. But there is always a treatment and management for any illness.

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Chapter 4:

When to Consult a Doctor

If you notice these signs or a constant change in bowel habits, you should see a doctor. Such as:

  • If you have frequent constipation that is painful.
  • If you often have a loose motion that is painful too.
  • Rectal bleeding can be a visible sign.
  • Some people also report nausea and vomiting.
  • If all the problems are accompanied by a major weight loss.

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Chapter 5:

Call to Action

You can read “Stomach Problems – What Is up with Your Tummy” under the section on body and aches at Epsychonline. To help learn about stomach problems, their causes, and how to manage them.

Further, you can enroll in the “Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)” course on our website. This course will help you to cope with your pain and manage the other effects also.

We hope this article was helpful to you. Sign up now for more learning.


"Quick online learning, thanks!" Susan

92 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

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  • Self-reflection material
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