People suffering from Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often increase their fluid intake or change their diet/food choices to find relief from their symptoms. Typically, one can avoid certain foods that trigger IBS to minimize symptoms. In addition to nausea, many IBS patients may experience symptoms of acid reflux. Learn what can cause nausea with IBS, what type of symptoms are associated with IBS, and how reducing stress can alleviate IBS.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder characterized by stomach pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. It is a common condition that affects the small intestine and large intestine. It is not a disease but a functional disorder, meaning that it is a disorder of the gut-brain interaction that impacts how your brain and your gut work together. While the exact cause of IBS is unknown, several factors are believed to play a role, including:

  1. Abnormal muscle contractions in the colon leading to either constipation or diarrhea
  2. Nervous system sensitivity in the gut leading to increased pain or discomfort with bowel movements
  3. Changes in gut bacteria or the microbiome (the collection of all microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and their genes, that naturally live on our bodies and inside us.)
  4. Food intolerance such as lactose or gluten intolerance
  5. Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or depression

It is important to note that these factors can vary among individuals and can trigger or worsen IBS symptoms.

IBS Symptoms

These are some common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Other symptoms can include:

  1. Abdominal pain or cramping often relieved by having a bowel movement
  2. Bloating and gas
  3. Diarrhea, constipation, or alternating episodes of both
  4. Changes in the frequency of bowel movements
  5. Changes in the appearance and consistency of stool
  6. Mucus in the stool
  7. Feeling as if the bowel movement is not complete
  8. Migraine headaches

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain is a common symptom of IBS. The pain is thought to be related to how the muscles in the walls of the intestines contract and relax, a process known as peristalsis. In people with IBS, these contractions can be stronger and last longer than normal, leading to abdominal pain. Additionally, changes in the balance of bacteria in the gut and increased gut sensitivity can also contribute to abdominal pain in people with IBS.

Does IBS-Related Nausea Occur?

Yes, nausea and vomiting can be symptoms of IBS, along with other symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating. Several factors, including increased gut sensitivity, changes in the balance of gut bacteria, and food intolerances, can cause nausea and vomiting. In some cases, nausea and vomiting may also be related to anxiety or stress, which can trigger or worsen IBS symptoms.

It is important to note that while nausea and vomiting can be symptoms of IBS, they can also be caused by other medical conditions. There are ways to combat nausea; you don't need to use anti-nausea medications to achieve this.

Holistic treatment for nausea can include several lifestyle changes and natural remedies, some of which include:

  1. Ginger: Consuming ginger in tea, supplements, or fresh ginger root may help soothe an upset stomach and reduce nausea.
  2. Acupuncture: This traditional Chinese therapy involves stimulating specific points on the body using thin needles, and it may help alleviate nausea and improve digestion.
  3. Aromatherapy: Inhaling certain essential oils such as peppermint, ginger, or lemon can help reduce nausea.
  4. Mind-body practices: Practicing mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing can help reduce stress and anxiety which can trigger or worsen symptoms of nausea.
  5. Hydration: Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water, clear broths, and other clear liquids can help alleviate nausea.
  6. Healthy eating: Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day and avoiding triggering foods such as fatty, greasy, or spicy foods can help reduce symptoms of nausea.

What Foods Trigger IBS and Nausea

The foods that trigger IBS and nausea can vary from person to person, but here are some common triggers:

  1. FODMAPs: Foods high in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) trigger IBS symptoms in many people. Some high FODMAP foods include certain fruits (such as apples and peaches), vegetables (such as garlic and onions), dairy products, and grains.
  2. Fatty or spicy foods: Foods high in fat or spices can trigger IBS symptoms
  3. Gluten: Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, can trigger symptoms in people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
  4. Artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol and xylitol, can trigger symptoms in some people with IBS.
  5. Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger symptoms in some people with IBS.
  6. Carbonated drinks: Carbonated drinks can cause bloating and discomfort in some people with IBS.
  7. Alcohol: Alcohol can trigger symptoms of IBS.

Does Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS, cause functional dyspepsia?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and functional dyspepsia (FD) are two separate functional gastrointestinal disorders, but they can co-occur and share some overlapping symptoms.

Functional dyspepsia is characterized by upper abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, early satiety, and nausea. It affects the upper part of the digestive tract, including the stomach and small intestine. On the other hand, IBS can affect the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine and is characterized by symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

Some individuals with IBS may also experience symptoms of FD and vice versa. In some cases, the two conditions may overlap, making it difficult to differentiate between them.

It is important to consult a healthcare provider to determine the exact cause of your symptoms, as other medical conditions can cause similar symptoms. Your provider can recommend appropriate treatment options based on your specific diagnosis and symptoms.

Other Diseases with Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid or partially digested food flows back into the esophagus. This backflow of stomach contents can cause heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest or throat, and other symptoms.

GERD is typically caused by a weak or relaxed lower esophageal sphincter, which is the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach. When the lower esophageal sphincter is weakened or relaxed, stomach contents can flow back into the esophagus causing symptoms of GERD.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition characterized by excessive amounts of bacteria in the small intestine. Normally, the small intestine contains relatively few bacteria, but in SIBO, the bacteria proliferate and can interfere with the normal digestive process.

SIBO can result from various factors including low stomach acid, a weakened immune system, and problems with the muscles in the small intestine wall that help move food through the digestive tract.

Symptoms of SIBO can include bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and malnutrition as the excess bacteria can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food.

Holistic Treatments to These Digestive Diseases

A holistic treatment approach to digestive diseases such as SIBO, GERD, and IBS may include a combination of lifestyle changes and natural remedies in addition to conventional medical treatment. Here are some common holistic approaches for digestive disorders. Please note the information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).:

  1. Diet: A diet low in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) and high in fiber can help alleviate symptoms of IBS, while a low-fat diet and avoiding trigger foods can help reduce symptoms of GERD. For SIBO, a low-carbohydrate diet may be recommended, as well as eliminating sugar, alcohol, and fermented foods.
  2. Probiotics: Taking probiotics can help balance gut bacteria and improve digestive health.
  3. Mind-body practices: Practicing mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce stress and anxiety which can trigger or worsen symptoms of digestive disorders. Stress management strategies can help optimize the gut-brain connection and treat IBS symptoms.
  4. Herbal remedies: Herbs such as ginger, peppermint, and licorice can help reduce symptoms of digestive disorders by reducing inflammation, soothing the digestive tract, and improving digestion.
  5. Movement and exercise: Regular physical activity can help improve digestion, reduce stress, and improve gut health.

It is important to note that everyone is unique and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best holistic approach for you and to minimize adverse interactions with any medications you may be taking. Additionally, if symptoms persist, it is important to seek medical attention, as digestive disorders can lead to more serious health complications if left untreated.