Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder known for causing chronic, recurring symptoms such as abdominal pain and discomfort, rectal bleeding, irregular bowel movements, and bloating that can be difficult to manage and treat effectively. While the cause of IBS isn’t completely understood, it is believed to involve a combination of biochemical, neurological, psychological, and environmental factors including genetics, stress levels, diet choices, physical activity levels, and hormonal fluctuations that cause nausea with IBS.
In addition to these classic symptoms, nausea is also commonly associated with IBS – although the exact mechanism by which this occurs remains uncertain from both a patient perspective and a medical professional’s point of view. This article will serve as an overview on why nausea exists as a symptom of IBS and potential treatment options to consider if you find yourself suffering from this particular symptom along with other more traditional indicators of IBS in your own life or the life of someone close to you.
Table of Contents
- Symptoms and Types of IBS
- Causes of Nausea with IBS
- Biochemical Cause of Nausea
- Neurological Causes
- Psychological Causes of Nausea
- Treatment Options for Reducing Nausea with IBS
- When to use the CareClinic App for IBS
- TLDR, what to do?
Symptoms and Types of IBS
IBS is characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, and changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can range drastically for each person. Some of the most common symptoms include increased abdominal discomfort or pain after eating, diarrhea or constipation (sometimes alternating between both), bloating of the abdomen, and excessive gas.
These symptoms may be triggered by certain foods or medications, stress levels, hormone fluctuations, or various other factors. When it comes to IBS types, there are three main subtypes: IBS with constipation (IBS-C), IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D), and mixed-type IBS (IBS-M). It’s possible for a doctor to diagnose “unsubtyped IBS” if a patient’s symptoms don’t fit any of these categories. If you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your options.
Causes of Nausea with IBS
One of the most common symptoms associated with IBS is nausea. Nausea can be caused by various factors related to IBS, including diet, stress levels, hormone fluctuations, medication side effects, and digestive issues. Diet can play a big role in triggering nausea for those with IBS. Foods that contain high amounts of fat or sugar can be hard for the digestive system to process, resulting in an upset stomach and feelings of nausea. Additionally, certain types of food allergies or sensitivities can exacerbate symptoms of IBS and lead to bouts of nausea.
Stress levels are also known to be a major factor in cases of IBS-related nausea. When we experience distress our bodies produce more stress hormones which can negatively impact the digestive system and cause abdominal discomfort, bloating and even vomiting. It is important for IBS sufferers to manage their stress levels in order to reduce bouts of nausea associated with this disorder. Finally, medications such as antibiotics or painkillers can also trigger episodes of nausea in those with IBS due to their effect on the digestive system. It is important to speak with your healthcare provider if you are prescribed any type of medication that could make your symptoms worse.
Biochemical Cause of Nausea
Nausea is one of the common symptoms associated with this disorder and can be caused by various biochemical factors. One of the most common causes for nausea in IBS sufferers is a disruption in gut hormone balance. Disruptions in different hormones such as serotonin, gastrin or motilin can cause feelings of nausea and vomiting due to their effect on digestion. Another potential biochemical cause of nausea in those with IBS is an imbalance in the amount of bacteria present in the intestines.
Imbalances in bacterial populations are linked to an increase in gas production which, if not properly addressed, can lead to problems like bloating and nausea. Lastly, changes in metabolism, such as increased levels of stress hormones or low levels of magnesium, are also known to trigger episodes of nausea in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Magnesium specifically helps regulate muscle contractions which can be triggered during digestive episodes leading to feelings of nausea.
The neurological causes of nausea in those with IBS can be due to certain underlying conditions such as migraine headaches or autonomic nerve disorders. Migraines can cause a wide array of symptoms including headache pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and feelings of nausea. Those with IBS may experience additional discomfort in the form of abdominal cramping or bloating due to their existing digestive issues. Autonomic nerve disorders can also trigger episodes of nausea in those with IBS. Autonomic nerves are responsible for controlling digestive system functions and an imbalance in this area can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting.
Additionally, some studies suggest that anxiety or panic attacks may be linked to increased levels of nausea felt by IBS sufferers. It is important for IBS sufferers to recognize any neurologically-related issues that could be contributing to their nausea and make necessary lifestyle adjustments accordingly. Treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy have been successful in reducing symptoms associated with neurological distress which can help reduce the frequency and intensity of IBS-related nausea episodes.
Psychological Causes of Nausea
Psychological causes may also be a factor when it comes to nausea as well. Stress, anxiety and depression are all known to trigger or worsen the symptoms of IBS, and the psychological distress that often accompanies these conditions can lead to additional problems like nausea. It is important for IBS sufferers to find ways to manage their emotions and mental state if they are struggling with feelings of distress or depression.
Psychological treatments like mindfulness meditation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques have been shown to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with psychological distress which can help reduce nausea in those with IBS. Additionally, talking openly and honestly about any mental health issues with a physician or therapist could potentially be beneficial in alleviating episodes of nausea associated with IBS.
Treatment Options for Reducing Nausea with IBS
In addition to nausea, IBS sufferers may also experience other gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, diarrhea or constipation. Additionally, there are various words used to describe the feeling of nausea including queasiness, queasy stomach, sick to your stomach and an upset stomach. There are many things you can do to make sure your poop is more consistent along with tips for managing symptoms like nausea.
Adjust Your Diet!
I often recommend dietary modifications to help reduce episodes of nausea due to the condition. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can reduce the production of stomach acids and help minimize nausea. Additionally, avoiding certain foods that are thought to trigger nausea symptoms such as fatty foods, alcoholic beverages, and highly processed or sugary items is also recommended. For individuals who have difficulty tolerating certain types of food, eliminating them or substituting them for healthier options can be beneficial in reducing episodes of nausea.
Adding high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains to one’s diet can also help reduce the severity of abdominal pain and cramping which can lead to nausea. Proper hydration is essential for those with IBS since dehydration can increase the risk of an episode of nausea. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day while avoiding caffeinated and carbonated beverages can also be helpful in managing symptoms.
Medications can help too
Antidepressants such as amitriptyline, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) have been found to help reduce episodes of nausea. Additionally, antispasmodics such as hyoscyamine or dicyclomine can be taken to reduce abdominal cramping which is often linked to bouts of nausea. Other medications that may be beneficial include loperamide or bismuth subsalicylate which can help reduce diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
For individuals who are sensitive to medications, there are a variety of natural remedies that have been shown to help reduce nausea as well. For example, ginger is known to be an effective anti-emetic and can be consumed in the form of tea or capsules. Additionally, peppermint oil possesses antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties which make it effective for reducing abdominal pain and cramping associated with IBS. Probiotics may also be beneficial in managing IBS-related nausea since they can help restore balance in the gut microbiome.
Taking a B Complex vitamin supplement has also been linked to reduced episodes of nausea due to its effects on improving digestion and boosting energy levels. Finally, stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy have been found to be helpful in reducing both mental and physical symptoms associated with IBS including nausea. Keep reading below to see how CareClinic can help you track your medicine intake.
You could try alternative therapies as well
Yes, there are several alternative therapies that have been found to help reduce episodes of nausea associated with IBS. Acupuncture and acupressure have been shown to be successful in decreasing stomach-related symptoms such as nausea, bloating, and cramping. Herbal remedies like chamomile and fennel tea can also be helpful for reducing episodes of nausea.
Additionally, probiotics have been found to be beneficial in managing IBS-related nausea since they can help restore balance in the gut microbiome. Biofeedback has also been effective at helping individuals manage their stress levels which in turn can reduce instances of nausea associated with IBS. Finally, dietary changes such as avoiding trigger foods or introducing low FODMAP foods into your diet can help reduce gastrointestinal symptoms linked to IBS including bouts of nausea.