S1E106: Can stress trigger IBS?

  • 17 May 2023

Find out why stress is not the root cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), though it can trigger or worsen IBS.

Synopsis: Every first and third Wednesday of the month, The Straits Times helps you make sense of health matters that affect you.

Many people think that stress can cause IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, a common condition that causes recurrent episodes of diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, or abdominal pain. But this is not true. 

Stress can trigger or worsen IBS, but it is not the root cause, says Dr Andrew Ong, a consultant gastroenterologist at the Singapore General Hospital, who runs a weekly IBS clinic at the hospital for hard-to-treat IBS cases. 

In this episode hosted by Straits Times senior health correspondent Joyce Teo, Dr Ong also talks about how the brain and the gut are linked, the approach he takes at the weekly clinic and how it has helped some patients. 

This is the first of a two-part series with Dr Ong on gastrointestinal issues, of which IBS is the most common condition. In the next episode, Dr Ong talks to Joyce about the foods to avoid if one has IBS, and the difference between food intolerance and food allergy.

Highlights (click/tap above):

1:17 The link between our gut and brain

3:09 What is irritable bowel syndrome?

8:14 Misconceptions of lactose intolerance

11:54 How does a psychologist help with treatment

17:24 Example of a patient at the weekly clinic

Produced by: Joyce Teo (joyceteo@sph.com.sg), Ernest Luis and Eden Soh

Edited by: Eden Soh

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