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Can Acid Reflux Cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome affects the large intestine or colon. The symptoms of IBS include bloating, constipation, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and cramps. Other symptoms include quick bowel movements or the feeling of incomplete bowel movement.

The muscles surrounding the colon region play a significant role in moving the food into the intestinal tract. Patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome experience contraction and these muscles forcefully or irregularly push the food. The abnormal functioning of the system causes the systems as explained above. If the movement of the waste material is faster than the regular speed, it causes diarrhea. If the movement is slow, then it causes constipation.

Looking at irritable bowel syndrome, it causes uncomfortable in either of the cases. It does not create any permanent injury to the colon nor causes inflammation.

Acid Reflux and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease causes severe damage to the lining, cells, and tissues surrounding the esophagus. The occurrence is due to the backwash of the acids into the esophagus due to improper functioning of lower esophageal sphincter. The lower esophageal sphincter acts as a barrier preventing the acids from running back into the esophagus.

Major symptoms of both acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease include bloating, gas, and frequent heartburn. In the preponderance of the cases, the symptoms include a sour liquid taste in the mouth. Although acid reflux is normal, gastroesophageal reflux disease is persistent and requires medical attention to obtain relief from a dry cough, difficulty in swallowing, and sore throat.

Can Acid Reflux Cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Can Acid Reflux Cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Doctors cannot clearly say that acid reflux causes irritable bowel syndrome as the causes of IBS are unknown. Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disorder. It means the symptoms are real but is hard to identify the psychological causes. Although the causes for the occurrence of irritable bowel syndrome are unknown, doctors often point it towards stress. As irritable bowel syndrome accompanies gastroesophageal reflux disease, many physicians consider the two conditions in sharing a common mechanism.

The joint mechanism between the both cases is the wrong functioning of the muscles in the intestinal tract. A few experts also suggest that an in-coordination between the muscles of intestines, stomach, and esophagus is also one of the mechanisms that cause a connection between acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome.

Keen observations pointed that people suffering from both irritable bowel syndrome and gastroesophageal reflux disease are prone to sleep difficulties due to periodic episodes of abdominal pain. As irritable bowel syndrome is less understood, it is challenging to state a permanent connection with acid reflux.

Triggering Factors

The trigger factors for irritable bowel syndrome changes from one individual to another. As an example, a person may develop the syndrome due to intestinal infection whereas another person could develop it due to stress or food reaction.

In women, the symptoms are worse in comparison to men during menstruation. Due to this, researchers are reporting that there is a larger role played by hormones in the development of irritable bowel syndrome.

Treatment for Acid Reflux and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A better way to keep away or cut down the connection between acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome is by avoiding the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine content beverages
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Chocolates
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Spicy foods
  • Foods containing fatty acids
  • Pizzas
  • Spaghetti sauces
  • Sugars such as fructose, corn syrup, and lactose
  • Sugar alcohols like sorbitol and xylitol.

While medications are preferable in curing both acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome, the noticeable changes occur when a person changes the diet and lifestyle. Apart from avoiding particular foods, quitting smoking, losing weight, and learning stress reduction techniques also help a lot.


  1. Mayo Clinic. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016
  2. American College of Gastroenterology. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) https://gi.org/topics/irritable-bowel-syndrome/

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 8, 2023

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