Post-infectious IBS (IBS-PI)
Less than 1 in 3 people seeing a doctor for IBS report a gastrointestinal (GI) infection prior to the onset of their irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. In “post-infectious” IBS (IBS-PI), individuals who had no previous IBS symptoms develop them after a GI infection.
What Causes IBS-PI?
Bacteria are germs that can cause infection. Immune cells in the body fight infection. Inflammation is a sign that these cells are present. When IBS begins after an illness in the GI tract, such as food poisoning, certain immune cells continue to be present even after the original illness is gone. These cells can cause pain and changes in stool.
About 10% of people who suffer a bacterial GI infection develop “post-infectious” IBS. Research has shown that people who experience diverticulitis, a type of GI infection, could be at increased risk for later development of IBS and functional bowel disorders. Doctors may refer to this type of post-infectious IBS by the name post-diverticulitis IBS, or PDV-IBS. Learn more about diverticulitis
It is more likely to occur in women, those with a severe GI infection, and those with a chronic stressor at the time of the illness.
What's the Treatment for IBS-PI?
There is no treatment just for post-infectious IBS, but current IBS treatments may be helpful. Over time, about one-half of patients with post-infectious IBS will get better without treatment.
Learn more about post-infectious IBS in IFFGD publication #210.