Is There A Relation Between IBS And Heartburn?

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Heartburn are both conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract. However, just as certain symptoms overlap, in a number of respects they differ. But the point is – what are these two conditions all about and is there a relation between IBS and heartburn? Let’s find out.

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Photo Credit: sashimi miso via Compfightcc
Photo Credit: sashimi miso via Compfightcc

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition that is seen to be aggravated by stress. It is actually a condition characterized by pain in the abdomen. This causes your stomach and gastro-intestinal system to not function properly. As a result, you not only have to put up with the pain and discomfort, you also have frequent constipation or diarrhea, bloating and differing consistency of stool.There are however, no physiological indications of the condition.

On the other hand…

What is Heartburn?


Heartburn is in itself a symptom of GERD. When you have Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, your stomach is not able to digest food, possibly due to inadequate acid production. The undigested food and unused acid puts pressure on the stomach valve. Due to this happening repetitively, the valve between the esophagus and the stomach, the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, loosens ad starts allowing food as well as acid to reflux into the esophagus. These stomach contents can then find their way all the way up – causing damage and erosion along the esophagus and even at the back of the throat.

According to most doctors, GERD is a lifestyle disease, caused by both stress as well as following an unhealthy lifestyle. Its symptoms can include heartburn, vomiting, coughing, difficulty in swallowing, irregular bowel movements, etc.

Now for the real question…

Are they related?

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Photo Credit: K. Sawyer Photography via Compfightcc

In many cases, the two conditions coexist. But whether they are related is debatable. Yes, one can say that the pain caused by GERD can lead to IBS. Alternately the imbalance caused by IBS can lead to GERD. But usually they tend to coexist because for most people the food triggers for one are the triggers for the other as well.

Also since the symptoms tend to overlap, most people will normally not be able to tell the difference between one and the other.  However, it has also been seen that, early diagnosis of any one condition can actually prevent the onset of the other.

The bottom line is that if you have even early symptoms and suspect you have either, then go visit a doctor and take the necessary precautions to treat the condition. Heartburn left to worsen can develop into chronic IBS, but treated early enough, it needn’t!

And now that you know the relation between IBS and heartburn, you should be able to adequately deal with either or both!