IBS and acid reflux are both common conditions that can have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life. Surprisingly, it seems that these two conditions often appear together, though their actual connection is not well understood. It seems that these two conditions may manifest in similar ways and be a result of poor muscle functioning of the intestinal tract. However, more research is needed and the relationship between the two seems complicated.

What Is IBS?

IBS, also known as irritable bowel syndrome, is a condition that causes stomach pain, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. However, symptoms will generally be experienced differently by different people. IBS is believed to affect the rate at which food is pushed through the gut. Food is pushed through the gut by contractions which are called peristalsis. This often happens abnormally in IBS sufferers. So when the waste product moves through the intestinal tract too quickly, it can cause diarrhea, and when it moves too slowly, it can result in constipation. The good news is that although IBS can cause some serious discomfort, it won’t actually lead to any permanent damage to your colon. Food is a big trigger for IBS symptoms to occur and choosing the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones can make all the difference. IBS symptoms may also be made worse by stress and medications. Some women also experience worsening symptoms during menstruation.

What Is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is a condition where stomach acid flows upwards back into the esophagus due to the lower esophageal sphincter valve not working as it should. This sphincter muscle operates as a valve between the stomach and the esophagus which controls the movement of food and liquid. Generally, it is supposed to keep the esophagus as a one-way street with things only moving in the direction of the stomach. However, when this valve is not working properly, it can lead to a backflow of stomach acid creating a burning feeling in the throat. While some acid reflux is normal, when it is constant (known as GERD), then treatment may be needed to relieve symptoms. Symptoms include coughing, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and a sour taste in the back of the mouth.

What Can Be Done To Relieve Symptoms?

While there are certain medications you can take to help relieve symptoms of both acid reflux and IBS, making certain lifestyle changes is probably your best first line of action. Not surprisingly, these two conditions are usually made worse by the same foods, so you will want to avoid:

  • Caffeine
  • Spicy foods
  • Fatty foods
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Tomatoes, garlic, and onions
  • Alcohol

Other changes to your lifestyle which can help are finding ways to reduce stress such as meditation and yoga, and not smoking.

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