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Can IBS Cause Heartburn and Indigestion?

Heartburn refers to burning pain in the chest of a person just at the back part of the breastbone. This pain becomes worse when a person bends over or lies down. Occasional heartburn is a common type of problem and it has no reason to alarm.

People usually manage this type of discomfort on own based on over-the-counter medicines or few changes in their lifestyle. However, frequent heartburn or interference with daily routine highlights a symptom of severe condition requiring for medical care.

Indigestion, on the other side, highlights a symptom of underlying problem like ulcers, gallbladder problem or GERD i.e. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease instead of a health condition of own. Even doctors call it dyspepsia, when the problem causes recurrent or persistent pain in the upper part of the patient’s abdomen.

Can IBS Cause Heartburn and Indigestion?

Can IBS Cause Heartburn and Indigestion?

Patients suffering from the problem of IBS i.e. Irritable Bowel Syndrome will remain at relatively higher risk to experience indigestion, heartburn and several other symptoms related to the respective condition, which include acid reflux. Periodic bouts in case of indigestion problem, particularly, after a few of the over-indulging meals are normal, but when such symptoms take place frequently, doctors have to find out a strong cause i.e. in this case is IBS.

However, the link between indigestion and IBS is ambiguous for doctors. Only thing they have succeeded to find out is that in both diseases, symptoms are common. These include discomfort or pain, bloating and flatulence. In addition, medical professionals have also found malfunction or a deficiency of digestive enzyme as another strong reason behind the problem.

With the growing age of people, production of acid in stomach declines naturally. Contrary to this logic, reduction in stomach acid has actually resulted in increase of acid reflux, which affects the process involved in digestion of food by interfering with the regular food breakdown in the human stomach. In this manner, imbalance in human stomach results in IBS symptoms and thereby, makes the problem of indigestion severe.

Relationship of Heartburn/GERD with IBS

Heartburn/GERD and IBS contain a common link. In this case, if you undergo diagnosis with the problem of IBS for dealing with problems of abdominal pain for about 3 times in one month or for about three months, you will find that any other disease and/or injury fails to explain that pain. GERD results in acid reflux and regurgitation among patients.

However, the link between the two is usually hypothetical, but may involve increased sensitivity associated with the human’s digestive system. People suffering from the problem of both GERD/heartburn and IBS feel excessively uncomfortable at low threshold as compared to people, who do not face these conditions. Doctors refer it as visceral hypersensitivity.

The second link between the symptoms of GERD and IBS is of gastrointestinal motility that refers to the movement of food from the human’s digestive system. Disorder in food movements is known as motility disorder. Few of the doctors and healthcare experts perceive both GERD and IBS as motility disorders.


  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-adults/definition-facts
  2. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. Understanding Heartburn and GERD https://www.aboutibs.org/ibs-diet/understanding-heartburn-and-gerd.html

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 8, 2023

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