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Nausea and IBS - is it common?

Hey,

I've struggled with what the doctors say is IBS for around 6 years (I've been to 3 different, they all conclude the same). It's gotten progressively worse over the years and I'm not totally convinced it's even IBS, actually I'm afraid it's much worse but at this point, part of me would feel relieved if they told me it was cancer.

My worst symptom (beyond stomach discomfort, cramps and constipation) is nausea. It's really turned me into a handicapped person. It strikes randomly and without a dietary pattern and I usually have about 3-4 sessions of it per week, it lasts 3-4 hours when it's there and sometimes it's accompanied with gastrointestinal discomfort/pain but not always. It makes me feel a shortness of breath like I can't breathe deep, and I also experience difficulties swallowing and dryness of mouth. My doctors say this is reminiscent of a panic attack, but the truth is it can happen anytime even when I'm feeling great and totally in balance. Besides, my body and my system should be able to handle a little stress, that's part of life for all living things... I really feel like the doctors are just picking the easiest solution.

This has made it completely impossible to live a normal life. I can't plan anything or work regularly because I can never predict when I'll be feeling good or just normal but generally I feel ill or nauseous 60-70% of the time. I'm down to only working 25 hours a week because I simply don't feel I have energy for more than that. I can't really travel or book tickets to concerts or other shows because there's too much of a risk that it's just a waste of money since I might not be able to go.

Every day is such a nightmare just having to push through with everything at work, feeling like I have to puke most of the time. I avoid meetings and social situations where I can't leave because I'm afraid I'll get nausea and the absolute worst is when I get trapped somewhere with nausea. My family and closest friends know how I struggle and are very helpful and supportive, and I've also told people at work but they have no idea how bad it really is.

I had so many dreams for my life and was so well on the way to achieving them. Life used to be such a rush, I had so much fun and though I went through a lot of hard times as well, I always found that I came out of every situation stronger and more aware of who I was and what I wanted. But now, I can't summon this courage or sustain any good attitude to life because everything has been rendered impossible by my disease. I'm feeling very depressed and have been feeling this way for a few months now; I'm literally at my wit's end and the idea of having to like this for the next 40-50 years (I'm a 29 year old man) seems absolutely impossible - I'd rather die.

I've really done an awful lot of things to try and fix it, but nothing is really effective. The only thing that's helped a bit is not eating gluten, but it doesn't help with the nausea. I've tried probiotics and more extreme things like fasting to no avail. I try not to eat at all if I'm at work. On a normal day I eat one slice of bread with butter in the morning and then I don't eat until I'm back home (where my lunch diet consists of many hardboiled eggs and raw vegetables). My dinners are typically lean meat and mostly steamed vegetables, rice and potatoes. I do my best to stay away from candy and anything processed.

So I guess my question is, are you guys (fellow IBS sufferers) experiencing nausea the way I am? I think I could live with the digestive symptoms, I've already found a few dietary changes that help them, but NOTHING seems to relieve the nausea. Or do you think something else is wrong with me and that I need to see other specialists?

38 Replies
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See link below, which gives useful info

irritablebowelsyndrome.net/...

Yes, it may be that the IBS is making you anxious and sressed, which is then making your nausea even worse. You are caught in a vicious circle.

I don't think it is helpful to not eat a proper healthy diet.

Do you take regular exercise, walking, cycling, swimming etc? Sitting at home worrying about it will make you worse. Think I would go back to basics reviewing my diet, exercise and lifestyle. Make changes gradually.

Try to be positive and be determined.

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The doctors would say the same thing (about the vicious circle) but I don't agree. If I wasn't feeling ill most of the time I wouldn't be stressed/anxious/depressed. The nausea has caused all mental symptoms, not the other way around. On the rare days where I'm feeling totally symptom-free (happens maybe once or twice a month for a few days) any depression and anxiety vanishes completely and to be honest, the memory of those days (which used to be basically every single day) is the only thing that keeps me going the rest of the time.

I'm not the best at exercise, although I do bike around a lot (I live in a very flat city with a good infrastructure for bikes). I've wanted to start something more regular for a while and I did last year but quickly found myself incapable of doing anything routinely because of my symptoms. It's extremely difficult to exercise when you're feeling nauseous. :-(

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Hi,

Sorry to read about your problems, but you've come to the right place.

It would be helpful if you could tell us what tests, scans, treatments (if any) you've been given by your doctors, just so we're clear about things, and do you take any medications for other conditions?

In particular, have you been diagnosed with acid reflux (GERD/GORD) as this can cause difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, shortness of breath and nausea? There's a silent variety of GERD where heartburn is not an issue and which often goes undiagnosed.

Constipation can cause any number of issues with the upper GI tract as well as the lower - the digestive system is just one long tube with loops and bulges after all and what happens at one end is bound to affect the other. Do you take laxatives or use mini-enemas or suppositories to clear your bowel?

Roz

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Hello,

Thanks for your empathy. I've had colonoscopies, blood tests, stool samples and a colon biopsy. Everything checked out as it should, ie. by the measures of modern medicinal practice I am by all means a healthy young man... but I feel like a cancer patient waiting to die. :-(

And no, though I don't know if they tested for GERD specifically. Both doctors did, however, believe that the nausea was caused by stomach acid and prescribed pills to deal with that. I tried taking those pills twice for two weeks and they didn't help. Also, I rarely have symptoms of acid reflux (and if I do, I usually know why) and things that GERD patients struggle with such as garlic, onions and coffee don't cause acid reflux for me.

I take no medications beyond an irregular shot of anti-histamines because I also get pretty severe hay fever from time to time. I've thought sometimes that maybe my digestive issues and the hay fever are connected because it happens on and off irregardless of daily pollen counts, seasons, dust and use of perfumes. I tried excluding some foods from my diet to test for common food allergies, but without success. :-( Usually though, if the hay fever symptoms are present then the digestive issues and nausea are also more severe (though the nausea/digestive issues can be present without the hay fever).

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Hi,

I mentioned silent GERD in my first reply to you where, what would be 'normal' problems for people with acid reflux (heartburn and indigestion), don't occur, it might be worth reading up on.

How do you deal with the constipation?

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I read a little about it now, and yeah, I can't rule it out, but nausea is only listed as a symptom of regular GERD of which I only have 2/7 symptoms. Of the silent type (LPR) I have maybe 3/7 symptoms. Maybe I should ask my doctor about it though, I don't think they ever considered LPR.

Not eating any gluten helped a lot with the constipation. Within 3 days of quitting it I had a bowel movement unlike anything I've had for the past 4 years, upon which I realised that I had completely forgotten what that was like. It hasn't totally fixed the constipation so I'm in the process of keeping a detailed food dairy so I can eliminate whatever else is causing issues, but... it's very, very confusing. I can't pinpoint any group of foods, like I can handle savoy cabbage and bok choy cabbage but I cannot digest pointed cabbage properly. It's very trial-and-error at the moment. :-(

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Try anti anxiety tablets through the doctor, give it fair amount of time to work. Its Hard to tell when you are stressed and when you are not. You can get into such a state inwardly, not knowing how anxious you are really underneath. It took me months to sort myself out. I thought i was a calm person. Now i know better. Keep diet simple. Avoid fodmap foods they don't help Good luck 🍀

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How did it go for you? Like, were you experiencing symptoms without realising you were anxious? Thing is I don't really feel that anxious, just frustrated and depressed about the situation.

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I would go to bed at night. My body was suddenly relaxing for the first time all day. Therefore, my bowels would relax and i would have to rush to the toilet, sometimes several times. I still don't realise when I am stressed, tense and anxious. It plays hell with my stomach, IBSD then IBSC Its a nightmare at times. Anxiety and anti depression Medication has helped me in the past to sort out my IBS issues which come and go . I hope you find a way to cope. It is so frustrating some doctors are more helpful than others 🍀🍀

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Have you tried taking a pro biotic daily? I started taking Symprove last year and my condition is so much better since. I’m super careful what I eat and mainly drink kombucha and kefir now - little changes have really helped

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I was doing it at one point but only for about a week or so before I concluded it had no effect. But I remember being so confused about what to buy and not really understanding the science behind it. Also because the actual science on probiotics is still pretty skeptical. :-(

But I did just look Symprove up and it says you need to do it for 3 months. I wasn't aware of this. Why did you pick this product over all the other ones?

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I think it’s personal choice - I was at a talk with Simon Gaisford last year and he was very positive about Symprove as liquid gets to lower gut quicker - took me a week to get used to taste but then I did the 3 months and felt so much better - expensive but I definitely feel the benefits

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Yes I get nausea and sickness. If it happens when I'm out I have to puke in the street which is awful. Just paid for a comprehensive stool test and it shows I have virtually no friendly bacteria and two parasites which would cause sickness. No overnight fix but hopefully will gradually get better.

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Oh wow, having to puke in the streets sounds absolutely terrifying and embarrassing. I'm sorry. I guess I'm fortunate I never actually puke. Did they diagnose you as having IBS? Because that sounds insanely incompetent to me.

Where did you get a stool test though? I might be interested in that. Would be nice to know if I'm full of parasites.

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Kate Arnold. I had been looking to have the test but not sure where. Then somebody on this site mentioned this place so I researched her and she sounded good. I had a Skype consultation then the stool test kit was sent in post. Hope things work out for you.

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Hey,

Obviously I am not a doctor but I can honestly say all of these things are so pointing to anxiety symptoms.. I am 56 years old and I get exactly the same as you. Please do not be scared I feel that this is exacerbating your symptoms you do not have cancer I’m pretty sure of that 😊.. have you tried doing yoga 🧘‍♀️ or taking up something creative, you need something nice to take your mind of things. Also a few drops of rescue remedy or some ginger tea would help the nausea.

Do you live in the uk?

Lots of love

Cheryl

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Yeah I'm not really scared anymore... that's why I feel like if they just told me it was cancer I'd probably feel relieved. That's how far it's gone. :-(

I write a lot and becoming a full-time writer was the main aim of my life but it's gotten so difficult to sustain any creative momentum because of the illness. Which in turn makes me feel me even worse because if I can't do that, then it's like I don't know who I am or what I'm supposed to be doing. So I'm not denying that there are mental symptoms as well but they came after the illness, not before.

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I too am an artist .. (Stained Glass) I work from home and it’s my beautiful distraction, I have turned my life around to suit me, and I have made myself comfortable which makes me less stressed.. I’m sure your writing will bring you great pleasure and it will deff help to heal you, so please don’t give up on that... you are so young and given time your symptoms will fade into a more manageable issue.. and you will be able to manage it I’m sure 👍🏼

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Thanks for your words. I really hope you're right.

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Is there anyone or anything in your life you are feeling resentment about?

I used to have a lot of nausea/vomiting, as a child and as an adult. So I totally relate to that horrible volatile wretched feeling it can create. I no longer have any of that, or IBS.

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Well yeah, I do feel resentful about a few people who are now in the past but I don't really think about it daily though it does pop up from time to time. How did you fix your nausea/vomiting?

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I have chrons colitis and have been on cyclizine from more or less day one of being diagnosed 20 years ago. Others are motillium, I feel sick as soon as I wake up so I really rely on these pills. I no some people don't like taking pills but it sounds like you really need them, I also take Gaviscon religiously as this also makes me feel awful. I wish you all the best, and believe me you really do not want cancer, stay strong and maybe visit your GP about tablets 😊

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You may find this article useful: sickofibs.com/ibs-symptoms/...

Hope this helps get you started,

Alison

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I hear you loud and clear. Even though my circumstances are different (yet some the same) I have suffered with miserable nausea. Collagenous colitis and then for years told I had IBS A. Recently it came to light I actually have pseudo obstruction with nerve and muscle damage from almost 40 years of being diabetic.

My point is when I am constipated, for whatever reason, I am very nauseous. It does consume my life and it alters it in such a way that it makes me angry that it has such control over me. My phrase of the day I constantly whisper to myself is "Don't throw up, don't throw up, don't throw up". But it is this tell tale sigh of nausea for me that tells me I am getting too backed up. Some people have bloating or feeling full but everyone is different.

I understand everything that you are saying and I feel for you.

The way that I am handling it makes it better now. Not gone but much better.

*First I eliminated the suspected foods as you did. After dental work I had felt so much better and remembering back to what foods I had not been able to eat while recovering I discovered some interesting things. I took away all red meat as well as pork and turkey. For me I found that digesting those meats were hard on my body and making me more constipated and in turn more nauseated. Many other foods as well, no tomatoes, dairy etc... Also I am celiac so I follow a gluten free diet. Oh and no bananas! They make me sick as heck!

*I eat very small amounts of food 6-8 times per day.

*I take a pro-biotic AND a pre-biotic. I guess the probiotic kills the bad bacteria but in order for it to do it's job more effectively it has to have energy or fuel if you will, to be able to do so. The prebiotic provides the fuel.

*I take a slow releasing iron 1 x day after cutting out the meat.

*I take a multi vitamin for women over 50

*I take Nexium 1 x day. I don't believe I have reflux but remember back 15 years ago when I didn't have symptoms and I tested positive for the H-pylori. It took 2 rounds of anti-biotics to work.

*I do not drink alcohol

*Last but not least I take Zofran if the nausea gets too bad. I get the one in the disintegrating tablet under the tongue for fast relief. My Dr. makes sure I have plenty of refills on this one. It works immediately but you can only take it couple times per day.

** couple years ago I found that sucking on these certain ginger-'lemon candies really helped. They were made by Haribo and they were gummies but I can't find them anywhere locally now.

I hope you find some relief soon. I am sending healing energy and strength.

Lauren

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Hello,

Thank you for all the tips. Seems like there's still a lot left for me to try. Actually Haribo is a Danish company and I'm in Denmark, so I might be able to find those candies somewhere. I've heard ginger can work wonders for nausea but haven't tried anything beyond ginger-lemon tea which only made it worse.

Right now I am actually feeling relieved, I've had two days mostly symptom free. I've cut totally back on coffee as well, which is one of my vices. It seems to have helped, but I never know if the solutions last or if it's just a temporary coincidence. :-(

In any case, I'll keep experimenting.

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Hey,

You are the first person or site or anything I have come across that sounds just like what is going on with me. I’ve gone to quite a few doctors and am still totally clueless. It is agonizing. Can you go more in depth on the symptoms? I just want to make sure, and I am so desperate.

Also anything else you do for the symptoms? Right now, I’m just drinking Metamucil. What do you think I should do besides this/start taking besides what you said above? Sorry, a lot of questions— but God bless you if you could give me some advice! Thank you

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I use dramamine for the nausea that i get from my ibs, it works great

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I'll check them out. Thanks!

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I have the same issues and the doc prescribed zofran for the nausea which really works. I know how you feel and have had some bad times lately.

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That's a medicine for the side-effects of chemotherapy, right? I'm so concerned about walking down the path of serious medicine. How are the side-effects?

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There are no side effects and my gastro prefers this since no sedatives like other nausea medicine. Works within 30 seconds since a tablet you suck on.

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I am naeseous too with IBS as I also have a nervous stomach. I spend a night here and there once or twice a year with cold sweats and throwing up half the night . I used to do it once a month but have learned what food allergies and intolerances I have and that helped it a lot. I have had this most of my life since I was 5 and now 63. Don’t panick it is IBS and you can get through this . Process of elimination diet or a good kinesologist can help find that out or allergy testing, they have good ways there too this could be what your eating for the nausea. This is just ideas and to let you know that nausea can come with IBS.

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What were you allergic/intolerant to? I'm literally noting down everything that goes through me methodically like it's a god damn science project. >.<

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I am allergic to turmeric, any and all hydrogenated oils I use only olive oil and pure butter, some rice brand oils are fine or grape seed oils, Soy is really bad for me, citrus fruit are to acidic for me. Any herb with a real perfume smell like cardamom, marjoram. Any thing with nitrates in it like ham hot dogs etc. chocolate, coffee, any thing with caffeine in it, soda pop, artificial flavors, caraway seeds and alcohol and hops... Plus lots of pain meds etc etc. I have to eat at a high end restaurants ones that can accomadate me on their better quality of foods. American process cheese gives me migraines and makes me sick. It’s not fun! But I manage.

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I feel for you. I've had periods of recurring nausea badly off and on over the last 5 years. I always suffered with motion sickness as a kid and adult and initially thought it was due to this. But when I started having worse problems, I realised it was happening more and more and wasn't just in vehicles, etc. I don't have a lot of advice, but I was on a strong anti-nausea medicine that cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy get prescribed. That helped for a while and then somehow over time it just improved. I still have my other IBS-D symptoms, which flare and then get better, but the nausea isn't the big problem it was for a long time. My issues did seem to link with flares in acidity and issues with reflux, but you seem to say your problems aren't acid related. I was on Lansoprazole and Omeprazole. I've been recently thinking I need to get back on one of these because I've been having some acid indigestion, and therefore the occasional nausea. Our bodies are really strange, but it's possible that this phase of nausea will just pass for you. I hope it does.

One thing, you said you don't eat at all at work. Not eating for many hours might be messing with your stomach acid. I know you have IBS-C and not D, but I've been advised to eat small meals throughout the day. I totally understand the fear of not wanting to eat and kick off the nausea at work, but I'm just wondering if not eating for all that time might make things worse when you finally eat back at home?

Hope you feel better.

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It's odd that it just kinda improved for you... was there no reason or anything you can point to? When I was diagnosed with IBS I was only 23 (6 years ago) and after the initial diagnosis and all the tests they did on me, the nausea simply vanished. A lot was happening in my life at the time, I went from a job that I despised back to school and my ex came back into my life, etc. Big changes. So my doctor quickly wrote it off as a sign of stress and I can't deny that my general mental well-being has a major effect, but over time, it just seems to me more that the symptoms have worsened to the point that they are now capable of operating beyond whatever inner peace I can sustain.

Also I think of it as like, are our bodies really supposed to completely self-destruct when we face stress or undesirable situations? I mean we've gone through so many years of evolution and it's always been part of the human condition... I just don't buy that stress is the major factor here, it seems completely irrational.

But yeah, I know it's extremely complicated and I'm holding out hope that it will simply vanish one day like it did back then. In regards to not eating at work, it's very random how my stomach react when I do finally eat.. usually my last meal would be 5-6 hours prior (I only work 5 hours a day). Sometimes it's just fine, sometimes I get so overwhelmed I just straight up fall asleep after eating. It's just that if I'm even feeling slightly nauseous, I know any food will help the symptoms for about 10 minutes and then make it waaay worse than it already was. That's the pattern. But I also managed to quit drinking more than one cup of coffee a day now, that seems to have helped although I need more time to know if it's not a coincidence. So maybe it is something with acidity because coffee is one of the main antagonists here.

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I have definitely noticed coffee, alcohol and carbonated drinks can make acidity and thereby my nausea worse. I've cut down a lot and drink replacement coffee/herbal tea/decaf instead. I just treat myself to a nice coffee now and then. I've loved coffee for years, so that's hard but has to be done. Honestly, I can't say what it was that made the nausea vanish. (I wish I could!) I was less stressed in some ways and more in others when it first started. I'd also lost a bunch of weight around that time and don't know why. That's what made me decide to finally get a diagnosis, as I wasn't sure it was IBS anymore. I thought I had an ulcer. But all the many tests came back fine so I was diagnosed with IBS.

I think stress isn't a clear indicator with it. I personally think it's maybe more dietary. I've been admittedly having alcohol more often casually and have let my diet slip in terms of avoiding my triggers. I wish I could help more. I was interested to read your experiences because of my own nausea problems.

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I get nauseous every morning after eating breakfast and it's worse if I have to go to work or go out anywhere early in the morning. I believe at the end of the day it's anxiety as we're all so worried about having IBS attacks when we're not home and worry about certain scenerios like having one with no access to a loo. I think we work ourselves up in a panic and it makes us nauseous.

In response to you saying you shouldn't feel nauseous when feeling great I was at a concert two weeks ago and before the main act came onstage my nausea kicked in. I think it was the excitement that did it but I managed to ignore it and it went away as I knew it was my body freaking out over nothing. I think we're super sensitive to our emotions when we have IBS it sets off nausea when we're happy or scared/nervous. I find it's best to try to talk yourself out of it once you realise it's anxiety (which is hard i know). I panic all the time when outdoors and I feel a bit sick but nothing bad has happened so I try to reassure myself and get on with it.

I really think you shouldn't let IBS take over your life. Don't let it win! Go to your concerts and make plans. Sometimes we need to work through the nausea but as long as you know you're unlikely to throw up or whatever you can overcome it and carry on. Your nerves are what are stopping you from living.

I've had IBS for 5 years (I'm 30 now) so I know how you feel about having the rest of your life 'ruined' in a sense but we need to make the most out of our lives. I really hope things improve for you and you can enjoy a better quality of life x

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