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IBS & Fibromyalgia: What's The Correlation — an article on the Smart Living Network
November 19, 2007 at 10:59 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

IBS & Fibromyalgia: What's The Correlation


Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a very common disorder that affects up to 15% of the population.

  • There is a close correlation between IBS and another disorder, fibromyalgia .
  • Up to 1 in 5 IBS sufferers also experience fibromyalgia, while up to 70% of fibromyalgia sufferers have IBS.
  • People with both conditions are more likely to suffer symptoms 38% worse than those with only one.
  • Women are much more likely than men to report suffering from either condition.

What is IBS?

  • Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a functional disorder of the intestine.
  • Essentially, the bowel does not work properly, either contracting too quickly or too slowly, causing discomfort and pain for sufferers.
  • Sufferers experience bloating, abdominal pain or cramps, and a change in stool consistency.
  • An attack of IBS can be brought on by eating the wrong foods, stress, or anxiety.

What is Fibromyalgia?

  • Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes fatigue and constant pain in the muscles, ligaments, or tendons.
  • Symptoms may vary for an individual.
  • Some sufferers also experience hypersensitivity to light, sound, touch, and smells.
  • Fibromyalgia can be caused by sleep disorders, spinal injury, infections, nervous system abnormalities, or changes in muscle metabolism.
  • Fibromyalgia tends to develop in early to middle adulthood.
  • Fibromyalgia may have a genetic component. People with family histories of the condition are more likely to develop it.

How are IBS and fibromyalgia linked?

Some scientists think that because IBS and fibromyalgia overlap so much, meaning that someone with one condition is more likely to have the other, they may have a common cause. One predominant theory is that IBS and fibromyalgia are both caused by the brain misinterpreting pain signals. Essentially, both conditions may be caused by hypersensitivity to pain signals.


If you have both IBS and fibromyalgia, it is important to get your conditions under control. Fibromyalgia can cause stress and anxiety, which can exacerbate IBS or trigger an attack. IBS can make the pain and fatigue caused by fibromyalgia worse. Try the following methods to alleviate your symptoms:

Eat a balanced diet, free of foods that trigger attacks of IBS.

  • Avoid spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, or other foods that trigger an attack for you.
  • Eat enough soluble fiber, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Be sure you are getting the right amount of nutrients.
  • Drink about 64 ounces of water per day. Dehydration can make pain, fatigue, and constipation much worse.

Get a moderate amount of exercise.

  • Exercise has been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of IBS and fibromyalgia. It may be uncomfortable at first, so start off with stretching and short walks, and work your way up to more strenuous activities.

Be sure to consult your health practitioner if you think you may have IBS or fibromyalgia.


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