Is food poisoning the cause of your IBS? 

IBS Caused by Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is obviously no fun. As the symptoms rage on, you worry that you will never recover. In most cases, the acute symptoms of food poisoning do pass within 24 hours and people can return to their regular lives. But for roughly one in four food-poisoning sufferers, symptoms can linger – and linger and linger.

Some may start to experience IBS symptoms on a longer-term basis. If symptoms of IBS begin following a gastrointestinal infection, it is called post-infectious IBS (PI-IBS).

What is post-infectious IBS (PI-IBS)?

Post-infectious IBS (PI-IBS) is a type of IBS that is caused by a viral infection (e.g., Norovirus), a bacterial infection (e.g., Campylobacter jejuni)or a parasitic infection (e.g., giardia) of the gastrointestinal tract.  In PI-IBS, abdominal pain symptoms and changes in bowel habits can persist long after the infection has resolved.

These infections are usually caused by eating or drinking foods contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites, aka food poisoning.

While the impact of intestinal enteritis can be severe, symptoms usually last less than five days. However, symptoms related to PI-IBS may last for many months or even years.

What are the symptoms of PI-IBS?

The symptoms of PI-IBS are similar to typical IBS and include: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea and constipation (diarrhoea is more common)
  • Bloating and gas
  • Feelings of urgency to go to the toilet
  • Feelings of incomplete evacuation
  • Mucus in stools

It is important to note that IBS symptoms can mask other diseases, such as coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as bowel and gynaecological cancers. Therefore, tests to rule out these conditions may be advised by your doctor, including blood tests and stool tests. 

Linda talks about how IBS is diagnosed – Duration 4 mins.

Here’s an abstract that explains a little more about the connection between an increased risk of developing IBS after a food poisoning event: Prognosis in post-infective irritable bowel syndrome.

I receive many enquiries from people who have developed PI-IBS after holidays where they picked up a stomach infection, and have not felt right since.

Deep clean after food poisoning

For anyone who gets food poisoning either at home or while on holiday, it is crucial to carry out a 5-day Charcoal cleanse, following the instructions in my blog post here.

This natural ‘deep-clean’ of the stomach and gut will help absorb any pathogens, including the bug responsible for the food poisoning.  It is also important to get some good bugs back into your system, especially if you’ve had diarrhoea which can ‘wash out’ billions of your friendly gut bacteria, so start taking one of our multi-species Live Bacteria probiotic capsules as soon as possible, one twice daily before breakfast and before bed. 

Supplementing with Live Bacteria meant that Julie had no ‘holiday tummy’ troubles:

“I’m nearing the end of a two week all-inclusive holiday abroad and what an amazing difference taking the Live Bacteria capsules daily has made!  In the past I’ve had to take Imodium on an almost daily basis but not this time! I can now happily go on trips and out on long walks without the constant anxiety of my bowels playing up; it’s such a relief! Thanks, Linda.”

Ideally people should be taking these capsules, as well as other protective natural anti-microbials like an Omega 3 fish oil capsule, daily with food, and a high-strength Garlic tablet, daily with food, before going on any overseas trips, in particular to the Far East, India, Africa, South America and the Caribbean.  

If they have a sensitive stomach to begin with, I always recommend that a week before they go on holiday, they begin taking probiotics and anti-microbials, and continue taking them whilst on holiday. And don’t forget to pack a pot of Charcoal capsules, just in case!

The link between our gut health and IBS

I’m always happy to help people with these symptoms, as I know that the advice given by a GP or gastroenterologist does not always lead to an improvement in symptoms. In fact, before too long, people can often find themselves on a cocktail of medication, potentially causing other health issues. I’m in no way undermining our wonderful health service, but when it comes to functional digestive and gut disorders including IBS, there are gaps in education and awareness of the causes and the treatments, and people who need help are falling through these gaps.

Millions of people are being consigned to a life of utter misery because they are not getting simple advice on bowel hygiene and how to protect their bowel when going to foreign climes.

I try to do my bit – education, awareness, carrying out consultations, recommending colonic treatments, advising on targeted supplements, when appropriate, but sometimes the problem seems so huge and I’m only one woman. It’s a growing problem, make no mistake about that. Our poor guts are being assaulted on all sides, not just from gut infections, but from medications like antibiotics and antacids, from eating too much processed food, from hormonal imbalances and from excessive, prolonged stress. I’ve observed this increase in digestive and gut disorders and diseases over the past three decades, and it’s alarming.

Until we get the health service to understand the HUGE link between gut infections and the increased risk of developing IBS, I fear little will change.  It would make a world of difference if people were recommended charcoal cleanses and probiotics after food poisoning events, but I fear it may take decades to get to this point.