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Is Your IBS Responsible for Your Non-Gut Symptoms Too?

By Danielle Elliott
from Tummy Rescue

Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be an ongoing challenge, characterized by bloating, abdominal pain, gas, constipation and/or diarrhoea. However, what many people may not realize is that IBS can extend beyond gut discomfort, manifesting in various non-gut symptoms that often go unrecognized or the connection is not made to their gut condition. These symptoms can significantly impact daily life and may be attributed to other causes if not properly understood. In this article, we look at five non-gut symptoms associated with IBS and explain their connection to IBS.

  1. Fatigue: One of the lesser-known symptoms of IBS is fatigue, which can range from mild to debilitating. While it may seem unrelated to gut health, fatigue in IBS patients is believed to be linked to factors such as disrupted sleep patterns, heightened stress levels, the body’s inflammatory response to gut dysfunction and the fact that your gut microbiome (the collection of bacteria) can actually be responsible for contributing to your energy levels. Additionally, frequent bowel movements or diarrhea can lead to dehydration and nutrient malabsorption, further contributing to fatigue.
  2. Headaches: Many individuals with IBS report experiencing frequent headaches or migraines. While the exact mechanisms underlying this connection are not fully understood, researchers speculate that factors such as altered serotonin levels, immune system activation, and heightened sensitivity to pain (visceral hypersensitivity) may play a role as well as the vagal nerve connection. Additionally, stress and anxiety, which are common triggers for both IBS symptoms and headaches, can exacerbate the relationship between the two.
  3. Muscle Pain: Chronic muscle pain, including back pain and generalized muscle aches, is a common complaint among IBS sufferers. Studies suggest that the link between IBS and musculoskeletal pain may be attributed to shared physiological pathways, such as dysregulated serotonin signaling and increased inflammation. Furthermore, individuals with IBS often experience heightened stress and anxiety, which can contribute to muscle tension and pain.
  4. Hayfever and allergies: This is a big one!! I often see patients experiencing allergies to food, chronic sinusitis or hayfever, who also have gut symptoms. The connection- mucous membranes and the immune system!! All the linings in our sinuses and gut are known as mucous membranes. When one is inflamed, the other can be too. Also, the GALT (gut-associated lymphoid tissue) is where the immune system resides in the gut. If your gut is not happy and functioning well, then neither is your immune system.
  5. Urinary Symptoms: IBS has been associated with various urinary symptoms, including increased urinary frequency, urgency, incontinence, and interstitial cystitis. Although the exact mechanisms linking IBS and urinary dysfunction are not fully understood, researchers propose several potential explanations, including overlapping neural pathways, shared risk factors such as stress and anxiety, and pelvic floor dysfunction. Additionally, certain dietary triggers common in IBS, such as caffeine and artificial sweeteners, may exacerbate urinary symptoms.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not solely confined to gut-related symptoms but can also manifest in a range of non-gut symptoms that significantly impact the quality of life of an individual. Recognizing and understanding these non-gut manifestations is crucial for the comprehensive management and treatment of IBS. If you experience any of the above symptoms in conjunction with gastrointestinal issues, consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and personalized management strategies. By addressing both gut and non-gut aspects of IBS, individuals can better navigate their condition and improve overall well-being.

More about the author

Danielle Elliott_3
Danielle Elliott
– Tummy Rescue

Danielle has been working with patients for over 18 years and now gets to focus on patients who have digestive complaints in her clinic Tummy Rescue. After her husband was diagnosed with his second digestive autoimmune condition 13 years ago, she dived into the world of Gut Health and her true passion developed. Since then Danielle has self published her book “Gluten Free and Happy”, which helps people with Coeliac Disease and Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity navigate every aspect of this complicated world and to learn to protect their health but also live without fear.

In 2015, Danielle discovered the world of SIBO, thanks to Dr.Nirala Jacobi and she knew that was where she had to focus to help those IBS patients who didn’t respond. Since then she has concentrated her study and clinical focus on all things SIBO related, including completing many SIBO courses like the SIBO Mastery Program, Jason Hawlerak’s Microbiome Restoration & Functional Nutritional Lab Digestive Intensive. She now also works alongside Dr. Nirala Jacobi and her team at the Biome Clinic, consulting with patients world-wide.

Danielle, loves educating the general public through her IG & FB pages & by being a guest on podcasts for BioPractica. She also regularly writes for BioPractica and Brauer Professional, to educate practitioners on the use of their ranges.