If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you are probably already familiar with the common symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, bloating and constipation. But did you know that migraine pain can also be related to IBS? IBS is a digestive disorder that can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including migraines. If you are experiencing chronic migraine pain and have not yet been diagnosed with IBS, it may be worth talking to a gastroenterologist about it. 

IBS is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine. It is characterized by abdominal pain and cramping, changes in bowel habits, and bloating. IBS is not life-threatening, but it can be very painful and debilitating and affect your quality of life. Many people with IBS also suffer from other digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Correlation Between IBS and Migraines

There is research that suggests there is a connection between migraines and gut health. For example, nausea and vomiting are frequently linked to migraine episodes. The research also indicates that those who have frequent headaches may be more likely to develop digestive disorders. By treating these digestive conditions, it may reduce how often migraines occur.

Relieving IBS and Migraine Symptoms

A common factor between IBS and migraines is serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical and a prominent gastrointestinal neurotransmitter which is a factor in IBS and migraines. So if medication is prescribed to target serotonin, it can relieve both IBS and migraines.

Another way to relieve IBS and migraine symptoms is to manage and reduce anxiety and stress triggers. Try strategies such as exercising, meditating, drinking plenty of water and getting adequate sleep. Avoid consuming alcohol, smoking, taking unprescribed pills or drugs to cope with stress.

Certain foods can also trigger symptoms. Common IBS trigger foods include caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, fatty foods and artificial sweeteners. For migraines, common trigger foods include aged cheeses, cured meats, skipjack tuna, MSG and some fruits such as citrus fruits. If you are suffering from IBS or migraines (or both), it may be helpful to keep a food diary to track which foods trigger your symptoms.

IBS and migraines are complex disorders and more research is needed to fully understand all of the potential causes and treatments. In the meantime, if you are suffering from IBS and migraine pain, talk to your doctor about treatment options. If you are seeing more than one physician for IBS and migraines, be sure each physician is aware of all the medications and treatments you are undergoing. There are many treatments available and there may be one that can help you find relief. 

Schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified gastroenterologists to evaluate your symptoms and help you develop a treatment plan. For more than 45 years Gastroenterology Associates of Tidewater’s physicians and staff have been committed to providing the finest quality and compassionate care to our patients.

We have offices conveniently located in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. If you have concerns regarding your digestive health, schedule an appointment by calling (757) 547-0798.