IBS and dizziness

Are IBS and dizziness linked?


Alison Cullen
Nutritional Practitioner, BA (Hons), DN, DNT (Distinction)
@AVogelUK
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An introduction to IBS and dizziness

A surprising but less common symptom of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is dizziness. Dizziness can be described as a feeling of unsteadiness, light-headedness or feeling faint. There are of course other causes of dizziness and it is important that these are considered before coming to the conclusion that IBS is responsible.

How can IBS cause dizziness?

It is not clear why exactly IBS can lead to dizziness.

The symptom may occur if your gut is particularly sensitive or inflamed. There are well-known nerve pathways connecting the brain to gut and one theory is that if your gut is under stress, signals are sent to the brain which affect your whole nervous system.

In addition, blood flow can be redirected to the large intestines, reducing blood flow to other areas of the body and if this affects the brain, feelings of dizziness or light-headedness can arise as blood pressure falls.

Finally, dizziness or feeling lightheaded may also be the more direct result of anxiety, a panic attack or dehydration if diarrhoea is a problem.

What can I try at home for dizziness?

There are a few simple steps which you could take to try and reduce the likeliness of feeling dizzy.

  • Limit stress: States of stress, anxiety and panic attacks are more likely to result in us feeling lightheaded or dizzy. Relaxation methods such as breathing techniques or meditation may help to address the stress that is inside you
  • Overeating: If dizziness is a direct effect of stress on the gut, then the less pressure this organ is under, the better. Try not to overeat or consume any trigger foods that aggravate your IBS symptoms. On the flip side, low blood sugar levels can also give rise to dizziness, so make sure you are eating enough energy giving foods, especially complex carbohydrates
  • Drink plenty water: Dehydration is another risk factor for feeling dizzy as it increases the risk of your blood pressure falling. Drink plenty of fluids to reduce the risk, especially if you are experiencing diarrhoea
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep allows our bodies to repair and restore. Sleep deficiency can have many side effects and dizziness is one of these. Read more about sleep and the effects of not having enough of it.

If you are experiencing severe or recurring dizziness, make an appointment to see your doctor in order to rule out other causes of the symptom

How can herbal remedies help me?

If potentially sinister causes of dizziness have been ruled out and both you and your doctor are sure that it is your IBS causing dizziness, there are a number of herbal remedies you could try:

  • Gingko biloba: A herb called Gingko biloba has been used traditionally to help maintain circulation, particularly to the brain
  • Stress Relief drops: Stress Relief drops are a herbal medicine with a combination of two herbs, Valerian and Hops. These have been used traditionally to help deal with anxiety
  • Tormentil: If the dizziness appears to have a direct link to an upset digestive system, particularly diarrhoea, try the herb called Tormentil – it can be used to help calm, and re-establish the normal rhythmical contractions of the gut.

How can my doctor help?

If home and herbal remedies haven’t addressed the IBS associated dizziness, a trip to your local GP would be advisable. Your doctor will consider other causes of dizziness and recommend appropriate medication.

Short-term relief of IBS may be possible with prescribed medication but tackling the root of the issue provides a better long-term solution - please refer to our relevant causes and treatments pages.

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