IBS is a disorder of GI motility. Its exact cause remains unknown, although there is a familial link in about one-third of cases. It is not caused by nerves or poor diet. Both stress and intolerance for some foods, however, can precipitate attacks. Other triggers include some types of abdominal surgery, acute illness that has disrupted bowel function, prolonged use of antibiotics, exposure to toxins, and emotional trauma. Ingestion of caffeine, alcohol, and other gastric stimulants and lactose intolerance seem to play roles for many individuals. The course of the disease is usually specific to the patient, who can identify the individual precipitating factors for exacerbations.

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