Can ibs cause headaches and nausea?

As if living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) isn’t already humiliating enough, the symptoms can affect nearly every aspect of your life. If you’re suffering from IBS, then you probably know that it affects your digestive system’s functionality in unpleasant ways like painful cramps, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. However,did you know that headaches and nausea are also common?? It sounds brutal right? But don’t worry, we’ve got all the answers here!

The relationship between IBS and headaches

Headaches may seem unrelated to stomach discomfort but in reality they share some similarities—both headaches and stomach problems are caused by inflammation. “There is a strong association between symptoms of headache/migraine and gastrointestinal disorders,” says Dr. Sarah Jarvis , GP locum from Clinical Commissioning Group.

Studies suggest that serotonin has a vital role to play when it comes to migraines/headaches as well as gut health . As per Emre Kumral who is MD PhD Assistant Professor of Neurology at Akdeniz University:”Changes in levels of hormones such as cortisol [due to stress] can trigger both syndromes.” Also changes related to certain food groups or intolerances, hormonal shifts during menstruation , lack of sleep or dehydration – things which commonly trouble people with IBS.

Migraines vs tension-type headache

Did anyone say there was just one type? There are 2 main kinds- migraine & tension-type headache
|Migraine |Tension-Type Headache |
| Pounding/pulsating feeling on just one side, aggravated by even mild exertion/light/sound.
| Visual disturbances
| Tension felt around forehead/ back/base of skull
Apart from these two types cluster/hormonal/cervicogenic [cause linked irritation at base of neck] headaches exist.

The relationship between IBS and nausea

Nausea is another common issue that affects nearly all people living with IBS. According to the NIH, the connection between stomach issues and nausea is thought to be due to inflammation—similarly as it’s for fatigue or brain fog. It can be a challenge to manage without feeling panicked about puking one’s guts out. But don’t worry – we are here with some helpful tips!

Nausea relief hacks

Hack Details
– Peppermint oil inhaled /applied topically can reduce nausea vomiting flatulence
– Ginger: found reducing gastric contractions increased muscle activity related with digestion speeding [like using a calmative on your pet when you want them inactive – this promotes opposite effect aka speed up]
– Acupuncture has shown promise in clinical trials conducted by Huan Hu University
– Other options include Pyridoxine/doxylamine combo medications, Anti-nausea OTC medicines/pharmaceuticals like Emetrol , Marzine Nasal spray
Probiotics improved dyspepsia symptoms more than placebo group (in Trials!)

Foods play an important role too! Avoid citrus foods/items fried / spicy food not eating heavy meals early morning.

Hangover vs Naseous

Gone crazy at the bar last night? Feeling nauseated & headachy next morning?
|| Hangover | Seasickness |
|- |- |- |
|Cause : Ethanol/Dehydration | Travel Sickness/Motion-related triggers |
| Symptoms: Headache/fatigue; GI distress | Sweating/Pallor/Burping/vomiting / turning green |

Headaches + abdomen problems occur during hangovers too but they do subside unlike migraines which can persist for days.

Dealing with IBS, headaches and nausea

Now that we’ve covered the relationship between IBS and these secondary symptoms- what can be done?

Development of lifestyle strategies

One advisable strategy is to manage stress alongside focusing on a well-balanced sleep pattern but let’s break down some things which have immediate effect.

Lifestyle advice Details
– Herbal tea like peppermint tea or assorted fennel/lemon balm/lavender blend are good choices.
– Mindful-eating technique [look ma no phone!] : sit in silent in peace consuming food slowly without multitasking (phone scrolling)
– Massaging lower back during cramps as it helps release pain-reducing hormone oxytocin
– Regular exercise releases endorphins (happy hormones!) naturally lending to a decrease of abdominal discomfort.
So resist becoming couch potato at all costs!

Apart from this consult your GP who may prescribe anti-depressants / anti-spasmodics opening up treatment options. Dietary changes as per diagnosis would include lactose-free/dairy-free foods fewer FODMAPs inclusion/ exclusion form basis of gastroenterologist-specific recommendations keeping individual tolerances/preferences in mind.

Self-help tips

The self help realm also offers some advise specific to reducing head & stomach issues-

Self Help Tips Details
1.) The” Mental Trick”: imagining swallowing one thing after another along digestive tract until your esophagus muscles relax-think half an Oreo / tomato/small grape i.e visualising each movement happening efficiently.
2.) Eliminating screen time prior bedtime
Better artificial-light exposure management allows body/biology establish consistent circadian rhythms otherwise linked to various metabolic health problems: weight gain , disrupted digestion etc
Shutting off/on do not disturb mode half hour before nighttime is a good rule of thumb. Creating a relaxing environment will help
3.) Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests using cinnamon as supplementary natural dietary hack – who’d have thought!


To wrap it up I’ll say this: Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a chronic condition which can often lead to headaches and nausea but there are various strategies both from medical & self-help levels with changes in personal lifestyle allow for body-healthily management of symptoms. It’s time we look at our own routines, ask suggestions regarding diets from nutritionists or take time to invest medically towards treatment exploring procedures/probiotics available off-the shelf.

Sources may vary

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