It is no secret that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can lead to nausea, but what should a sufferer do?

In fact, nausea that’s caused by irritable bowel syndrome isn’t even uncommon, says a doctor.

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“IBS is a condition that affects the function of both the upper and lower GI tract, so it would not be uncommon to see nausea, bloating or other upper GI symptoms with IBS, as they can all be related to abnormal gastrointestinal function,” explains Michael Blume, MD, a gastroenterologist at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, Baltimore.

“That being said, there are many problems that cause nausea, so while this can be seen with IBS, it is important not to get ‘tunnel vision’ and not consider other possibilities.”

This is especially true if you’re over age 50. Even 40. But even in younger people, unexplained nausea or stomach aches, constipation and/or diarrhea, need to be evaluated by a gastroenterologist.

Sometimes, nothing comes up in the test results. IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, and if the patient then undergoes treatment for this disorder, and the nausea and other symptoms subside, then the diagnosis was likely very accurate.

If you’re having unexplained nausea and have been diagnosed with IBS, but the symptoms persist despite treatment…and especially if the symptoms are becoming progressive in some way and you’re a woman…then see a gynecologist about having your ovaries checked.

Ovarian and other gynecological conditions can cause symptoms that seem like they are digestive in origin.

Remember, cancer (which can cause nausea) can occur alongside IBS, though there is no causal relationship.

Another Condition Similar to IBS; Can Sometimes Cause Nausea

The benign condition of microscopic colitis is sometimes misdiagnosed as IBS.

However, in microscopic colitis, there is no constipation; it’s all diarrhea–and usually watery and “explosive.”

But there may be nausea and painful cramps, too. Only a colonoscopy can diagnose microscopic colitis.

If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, have not had a colonoscopy, sometimes have nausea, and suffer only from diarrhea — there IS a chance you might actually have microscopic colitis.

In practice for 20+ years, Dr. Blume treats over 65 conditions including abdominal pain, appetite loss, blood in stool, celiac disease, colon cancer, esophageal and liver disease, gas and IBS.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 

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Top image: Shutterstock/KDdesignphoto