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Can You Get a Headache with IBS?

Can You Get a Headache with IBS?

Yes, you can get headache with IBS. The chances of IBS are significantly higher in the case of individuals who have migraine. Headache and IBS are closely associated with each other as one can trigger other. Thus, they are called as called comorbid diseases.

Several studies and researches have shown that about 10-20% of the cases of headache and IBS occur together. Also, in the case of 23-53% of the people suffering from IBS, headache is common. Thus, it is clear that the two conditions are closely associated with each other.

There are some other studies as well that suggest that the people suffering from IBS have a strong probability of developing migraine at some point of time. The chances are 40-80 % higher as compared to a normal individual. More researches adds to the same conclusions and give more reasons to believe that IBS, headache and intolerance of gut are all related to each other.

Can You Get a Headache with IBS?

The Link Between Headache and IBS

In case of some people, migraine headache and symptoms of IBS including nausea, abdominal pain, irregular bowel movement, vomiting, diarrhea etc can occur at the same time. In other cases, the symptoms of IBS can occur between the migraine attacks. Thus, it becomes important to understand the connection between migraine headache and IBS, so that it can be treated.

While researchers are still trying to find out the exact connection between the headache and IBS, some reports and studies suggest that the disturbance in brain can cause to become overly vigilant and that can further lead to digestive problems as gut functions are controlled by brain. Thus, whenever a person experience stress, the nervous system is not able to control the gut functions efficiently resulting in digestive disorders.

Serotonin is a special chemical substance produced by the brain that acts as the neurotransmitter for controlling the activities and function of the gastrointestinal tract.

Thus, it plays a huge role in determining the proper connection between the nervous system and gut.

Strategies to Break the Headache with IBS Connection

There are several strategies that are helpful in managing the symptoms of IBS as well as headache at the same time. Some of them are as follows:

  • De-stress. We have already seen that increased level of stress and anxiety can trigger the symptoms of IBS. Thus, keeping yourself stress-free is very helpful in avoiding the symptoms of IBS. You need to find ways that help your release your stress and headache. You can try indulging yourself in certain activities that you enjoy. Follow your hobbies such as listening to music, gardening, singing, painting and everything else that you enjoy doing. Moreover, there are several exercises and special techniques like Yoga that are very helpful in reducing the levels of stress. Diet is another important factor that can help you manage stress. Drinking alcohol or smoking will only increases your stress level. Avoid unhealthy diet.
  • Consider medication. As we have already seen above that serotonin is an important chemical that is related to the symptoms of IBS and headache. There are certain medications available in the market that you can use to manage the levels of serotonin. Tegaserod (Zelnorm) is a drug that is particularly helpful in managing constipation in IBS patients. Alosetron (Lotronex) is another serotonin receptor that is recommended for people who are suffering from diarrhea as an outcome of IBS. However, it must be used only if other medications do not have any positive effect on the body.
  • Get Educated. You must try to educate yourself about migraine headaches and IBS. This will help you have a better understanding of both the conditions, symptoms and treatment options. This will automatically make you feel less stressed and worried. You can also seek information from your doctor. There are various reputed websites that can provide you authentic and useful information about IBS and migraine headaches.
  • Watch your diet. We know that diet plays an important role in triggering the symptoms of either migraine headache or IBS. Thus, you need to be careful about your diet and gain more awareness about the foods that you can include in your diet safely. Usually, dairy products, gas producing products, fatty acids etc… needs to be avoided. Food items like chocolate, aged cheese, coffee and wine can cause the symptoms of migraine and hence must be avoided.


  1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke – Migraine Information Page: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Migraine-Information-Page
  2. Mayo Clinic – Migraine: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20360201

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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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