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What Are Some Other Health Conditions Connected To IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome shares symptoms with many other possible conditions. IBS is a “functional bowel disorder”, which is a functional gastrointestinal disorder with symptoms that occur because of changes to the middle or lower gastrointestinal tract.1 Some of these related conditions may be functional bloating, functional constipation, functional diarrhea, or unspecified functional bowel disorder.1 Some people with IBS may also have functional dyspepsia, heartburn or acid reflux.2

Gastrointestinal functional and non-gastrointestinal functional disorders are commonly present in the same person.3 Non-gastrointestinal functional disorders are typically related to enhanced pain perception and may include fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint disorder, and chronic fatigue syndrome.2,3

IBS may be related to various mood disorders, which include depression, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and self-harm.4 People with mood disorders may feel sad all the time, lose interest in important parts of life, and fluctuate between extreme happiness and extreme sadness.4 Depression is considered the most common mood disorder.5,6 Depression in people with IBS has been reported to increase their healthcare cost and the need for medical assistance.5,6 Approximately 46% of people with IBS have reported feeling depressed.7

Some people with IBS may find that they are affected by eating a gluten-rich diet.8 Having an adverse reaction to gluten is called Celiac disease, which is a digestive disease that can cause serious complications.9

Food allergies are an immune system response that considers a certain food to be a foreign substance. Food allergies may lead to symptoms similar to those caused by IBS, but symptoms may also be life threatening.10,11 Some common food allergies include egg, peanut, and shellfish.10 A food intolerance can be similar to a food allergy.

A food intolerance is a hypersensitivity to a certain food and does not involve the immune system. Food intolerances mean that the body cannot property digest a particular food or it may irritate the digestive system. For example, lactose intolerance is a sensitivity to milk or dairy products, which can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms that are similar to IBS symptoms.10

Certain symptoms of IBS may be mistaken for symptoms from other bowel diseases.12 Other diseases that affect the bowels, abdominal area, and gastrointestinal tract include bile acid malabsorption, inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer, microcytic colitis, gastrointestinal infections, diverticulitis, and ovarian cancer.2 Due to all the related conditions that are similar to IBS or are present alongside IBS, It is important to get properly diagnosed by your doctor.

Written by: Truc Thanh | Last reviewed: June 2016.
  1. Longstreth GF, Thompson WG, Chey WD, et al. Functional bowel disorders. Gastroenterology. 2006;130:1480-1491.
  2. World Gastroenterology Organisation Global Guidelines. Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a Global Perspective. Accessed 1/7/16 at:
  3. Kim SE, Chang L. Overlap between functional GI disorders and other functional syndromes: what are the underlying mechanisms? Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2012;24:895-913. 4. Mood disorders. Accessed February 22, 2016.
  4. Mood disorders. Accessed February 22, 2016.
  5. Depression. Accessed February 22, 2016.
  6. Mykletun A, Jacka F, Williams L, et al. Prevalence of mood and anxiety disorder in self reported irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). An epidemiological population based study of women. BMC Gastroenterology. 2010;10:88.
  7. Tosic-Golubovic S, Miljkovic S, Nagorni A, et al. Irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, and personality characteristics. Psychiatria Danubina. 2010;22:418-424.
  8. Sayuk GS, Gyawali CP. Irritable bowel syndrome: modern concepts and management options. Am J Med. 2015;128:817-827.
  9. Lebwohl B, Ludvigsson JF, Green PHR. Celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. BMJ. 2015;351:h4347.
  10. Cuomo R, Andreozzi P, Zito FP, et al. Irritable bowel syndrome and food interaction. World J Gastroenterol. 2014;20:8837-8845.
  11. Bischoff SC, Barbara G, Buurman W, et al. Intestinal permeability – a new target for disease prevention and therapy. BMC Gastroenterology. 2014;14:189.
  12. Wilkins T, Pepitone C, Alex B, Schade RR. Diagnosis and management of IBS in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2012;86:419-426.