Bloating after meals and a loss of appetite are common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. IBS is a common condition that affects about 20 percent of the American population, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Although IBS can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, the condition does not affect the digestive system permanently. If bloating and loss of appetitive continue for more than seven days, call your doctor for further evaluation.
IBS mainly affects the colon but can cause symptoms in the abdomen after eating. The most common symptoms caused by IBS, aside from bloating and loss of appetite, are cramping, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea. Most symptoms are controlled by changing your diet, taking prescription drugs and reducing the amount of stress in your life. This digestive disorder is more common in women than men and typically shows symptoms before the sufferer reaches the age of 35, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
The exact cause of IBS is not clear and may be triggered by various stimuli. One reasonable cause is erratic muscle movements in the lining of the large intestine. When waste enters the colon, muscle contractions push it toward the anus. Once enough pressure builds up, you have an urge to have a bowel movement. IBS may cause your muscles to spasm, leading to chronic diarrhea or constipation. Another cause may be a breakdown in communication between the brain and colon. Your colon may be hypersensitive to certain stimuli, such as caffeine, dairy or alcohol, causing your colon to underreact or overreact.
Certain foods can trigger bloating and loss of appetite. Not everyone will have the same food triggers with IBS. You may be sensitive to consuming broccoli, while someone else with IBS may not be able to drink milk. The MayoClinic website states that certain foods -- such as milk, chocolate, carbonated beverages and vegetables -- may trigger your symptoms. Some other food ingredients such as monosodium glutamate, artificial sweeteners and caffeine also may trigger your symptoms. Stress is another trigger.
While IBS is the most common source of bloating and loss of appetite, you need to talk with a gastroenterologist to receive a clinical diagnosis. Other gastric conditions may include Crohn’s disease, food intolerance or celiac disease. Keep a written record of which foods cause your symptoms to develop and share it with your doctor.