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IBS and GERD: Are They Related?

If you are like me, you suffer from both GERD and IBS. It hasn’t been a pleasant journey, but thankfully I have identified my major triggers and found medications and other lifestyle changes that help keep flare-ups from occurring. I still have my bad days, but they are much better than previous years!

What is IBS?

IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS is a chronic, long-term condition that includes both diarrhea and/or constipation. Symptoms include, but are not limited by, bloating, gas, stomach pain, and cramping. Symptoms may come and go or be worse than previous bouts. Some people are able to control these symptoms with diet, exercise, medications, and other lifestyle changes, but for others it isn’t always that easy or manageable.

What is GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, is a form of acid reflux that occurs when stomach acid runs back into your esophagus; therefore aggravating the lining. GERD is classified as mild (occurring approximately twice weekly) or moderate (occurring at least once weekly). Symptoms can include chest pain, difficulty swallowing, a burning sensation in your chest that may worsen after eating or when lying down, the feeling that a lump is in your throat, and regurgitation. Like IBS, GERD symptoms are often controlled by diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. Medications and even surgery may be required.1

Are IBS and GERD related?

IBS and GERD are both considered chronic conditions. While the two share similar disease mechanisms, a direct correlation is not readily understood. According to some experts, they believe the correlation between the two consist of poor muscle functions in the intestinal tract. It has also been noted that people that suffer with both IBS and GERD have more sleeping difficulties and stomach pain flare-ups than those who just have one of the conditions alone.2

A research study that has been conducted included over 6000 patients with gastrointestinal-related difficulties, and researchers found that more than 63% of IBS patients had GERD and nearly 34% of GERD patients had IBS. Another study also concluded that if you have GERD, there is a 3.5 times greater risk of developing IBS. It was also found that women have a greater risk than men of getting IBS if they already have GERD.2,3

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure which is worse some days! Seems like if it’s not IBS symptoms, then it is GERD symptoms! I’m constantly regretting eating foods that I know I shouldn’t eat, although I know my triggers. I know there are so many of us out there that suffers with both of these conditions. The promising factor is that there is definitely help out there. We just need to be consistent and support each other in the process!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Mayo Clinic: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Accessed on 5/23/18 at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/symptoms-causes/syc-20361940
  2. Bortoli Nde, Martinucci I. Overlap of functional heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease with irritable bowel syndrome. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3793133/. Published September 21, 2013.
  3. Kennedy TM, Jones RH. Irritable bowel syndrome, gastro-oesophageal reflux, and bronchial hyper-responsiveness in the general population. Gut. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9824603/. Published December 1998.

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