How do FODMAPs cause gut symptoms?

Low FODMAP diet provides both short- and long-term relief of gut symptoms

Dr Jaci Barrett - Research Dietitian, 01 May 2017

This month we will explore research into the mechanisms involved in inducing and exacerbating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We will delve deeper and unpack the reasons why a particular meal may be well tolerated in one person and bring on symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, abdominal pain, discomfort, and flatulence in another.

If you haven’t seen this animation yet, now would be a good time to take a look as it explains the mechanisms underlying IBS and the role of FODMAPs in triggering symptoms.

Mechanism series - Introduction_74488ea9

As you would have seen in the video, medically diagnosed IBS is difficult to treat, in part because we don’t fully understand what causes symptoms, and because symptoms vary between sufferers.

IBS is diagnosed by using a set of symptom criteria, known as the Rome IV criteria. These criteria are considered the gold standard in diagnosing IBS and were developed to assess the frequency and intensity of symptoms. If symptoms fall within the criteria, a diagnosis of IBS can be made.

The criteria include:

Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least 3 days per month in the last 3 months associated with two or more of the following:

  • Improved after opening bowels
  • Onset associated with a change in frequency of bowel movements
  • Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool

Diagnostic criteria needed to be fulfilled for the last 3 months with symptom onset at least 6 months prior to diagnosis. 

If you think your symptoms match these criteria, please make sure you discuss this with your doctor or other appropriate health professional for individualised recommendations and support.  

Remember to check in on our blog next week as we look at some of the factors contributing to IBS symptoms. 

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