6 surprising IBS symptoms

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Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
Ask Emma

07 February 2020

Which symptoms of IBS are less common?

IBS is a common condition which can cause a range of unwanted symptoms, from diarrhoea to stomach cramps. However, there are a number of surprising symptoms which you may be unaware of, such as:

  1. Bladder problems
  2. Pain during sex
  3. Early satiety
  4. Excessive burping
  5. Headaches and migraines
  6. Heartburn.

Read on to find out more about these symptoms, and get some tips to help manage the problem.

1. Bladder problems

First on our list of surprising IBS symptoms (or unsurprising if you yourself suffer from the issue!) is an overactive bladder. A study in Japan found that about one third of its participants who had been diagnosed with an overactive bladder also suffered from IBS, suggesting that the two are closely linked. Here, researchers had 10,000 subjects fill out an online questionnaire so it was a very large study, incorporating a range of individuals.

An overactive bladder results in frequent urination and the need to run to the toilet suddenly. This has further implications in that it can disrupt sleep by causing you to wake in the middle of the night, desperate for the loo. Also, it makes it difficult to move through your daily routine as sufferers must constantly think about where the nearest toilet will be.

In addition, there is evidence to suggest that IBS is linked to incontinence though the exact reasons for this connection, as well as the link between IBS and an overactive bladder, is unclear.2

My advice: First of all, if you are experiencing an overactive bladder it does not necessarily suggest that IBS is at play. Instead the issue can come around for a variety of reasons so it’s best to get the problem checked over by a doctor. They’ll offer specialized advice and tips on how to manage the problem or, if necessary, they’ll advise you on how to treat it.  I realize that you may find it a little embarrassing to talk over this personal problem with a stranger but often people find that just discussing their problem relieves some stress and believe me, your doctor will have heard it all before anyway!

2. Pain during sex

IBS may negatively affect your sex life, specifically because it can contribute to pain during sex.3 For women, this tends to be deep in the pelvis, rather than in the vagina.4

Again, there isn’t a clear-cut reason as to why IBS is linked so closely with pain during sex, however, it could be to do with the fact that the bowel and vagina are positioned close together. As a result, the bowel may get moved around during sex, and as IBS makes the bowel more sensitive than normal, this could cause pain.  

My advice: As with an overactive bladder, IBS is not the only cause of pain during sex. It is also linked to endometriosis, infection, as well as a range of other things too. So, if you’re suffering from this issue, do get it checked out with your doctor.

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3. Early satiety

If you regularly find it difficult to finish your meals, it may be as a result of this surprising IBS symptom. Early satiety, the inability to eat “normal” quantities of food (a normal amount is determined by gender, weight, height and activity levels), is very common amongst IBS sufferers.5 Again, there is no clear reason as to why these two problems should be connected but it is thought to be linked to additional problems like stress and inflammation.

Early satiety can be quite detrimental for the body because, as you can guess, if you continuously miss out on the nutrients and energy provided by a whole meal, it can lead to further problems like nutrient deficiency and weight loss. 

My advice: If you are certain that early satiety is linked to your IBS (a discussion with your doctor will help to achieve this diagnosis), you can begin to take steps to address the problem. To do this, you could try eating smaller portions of food but at more frequent intervals. Also, a good way to get a variety of nutrients into your body is to eat them in liquidized form, such as in a tasty, refreshing smoothie. You can find many smoothie recipes on our website including our easy de-bloat green one! Smoothies can be enjoyed as a nutritious breakfast, or as a yummy snack alongside a healthy, balanced diet. 

4. Excessive burping

This is yet another common IBS symptom which can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing.6  Excessive burping occurs when too much gas is produced by the body. It may also indicate that your food is not being digested properly. Also, the issue tends to worsen after consuming things like fizzy juice and so, like many IBS symptoms, it can be eased by cutting this out of your diet.

My advice: As I’ve discussed in previous blogs, it’s incredibly important that IBS sufferers chew their food slowly and thoroughly to ease not just burping, but other problems like bloating and diarrhoea too. Also, make sure you sit down at meal times so that your body has time to digest the food you are eating. If you are often very busy this may seem challenging, but it can do wonders for IBS symptoms like belching! 

5. Headaches and migraines

Many IBS patients experience headaches and migraines, though this is usually alongside the likes of nausea and stomach discomfort.7

Stress is known to exasperate symptoms of IBS and it could have a part to play here too. However, as the exact reasons for the development of IBS are not clear in the first place, it’s hard to pin point why the condition may lead to a higher risk of headaches and migraines.

My advice: If you think that your IBS is being made worse by stress, it may be beneficial to take steps to reduce this problem. You could talk to family and friends, or even try Stress Relief Daytime - our relaxing herbal remedy. This contains extracts of freshly harvested Valerian and Hops which have been traditionally used to ease feelings of mild stress and anxiety.

6. Heartburn

Heartburn occurs when acid in the stomach leaks up into the oesophagus causing a burning sensation in the chest. It usually occurs after eating, with some foods like spice more likely to bring on the issue. However, it can be brought on by other factors too including stress, weight and by eating large quantities of food.

My advice: Silicolgel can work to reduce heartburn by providing a soothing lining the stomach and intestine. It also binds with toxins and pathogens to help get rid of them from the body. This, in turn, helps to ease heartburn, as well as other IBS symptoms such as nausea, flatulence and bowel discomfort.

My Top Tip:

Silicolgel can help to reduce the symptoms of IBS.

To treat gastrointestinal disorders, take 1 tablespoon (15ml) of silicol®gel three times daily, preferably before meals.

"It really takes away heartburn and bloating in minutes, and it's also helpful for diarrhoea related to IBS."

Read more customer reviews

What you said!

We recently ran a poll to find out which unusual IBS symptom surprises you most. We've crunched the numbers and here are the results.

Results: Which unusual IBS symptom surprises you most?

29.6% of you were most surprised that bladder problems can be a symptom of IBS. IBS can sometimes cause an overactive bladder which results in frequent urination and the need to run to the toilet suddenly. If you suffer from these symptoms, get it checked out with your doctor as there can be a variety of reasons for this.









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Here’s what I recommend

As the A.Vogel Digestion advisor, I recommend Silicol® Gel and Molkosan® Original, to help with your IBS symptoms.

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Did you know?

How you eat rather than what you eat can also trigger your IBS. From not chewing your food enough to even how you sit while you eat can all impact affect your IBS!

7 simple eating habits to help ease IBS

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