The infection seems to start an autoimmune response that produces antibodies to the body’s own nerve cells, a phenomenon that appears to affect women more than men. Similar processes have been seen in thyroid disease, pernicious anaemia and myasthenia gravis (muscle weakness).
Researchers from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay and Lancaster University are unconvinced by the theory that IBS and other similar conditions are “all in the head” and have a psychological cause.
Instead, an autoimmune malfunction is a more likely cause, and one that affects 10 females to every one male. These antibodies have been discovered in women with anorexia, and IBS often begins following a bout of infectious diarrhea, while chronic fatigue can be triggered by glandular fever (infectious mononucleosis) and viral hepatitis.