Can GERD and IBS Overlap?

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Many people have symptoms of both gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Some estimates suggest that three out of four people who have either IBS or GERD have at least one other symptom of the other condition. The symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease include heartburn, sore throat, trouble swallowing and indigestion. Diarrhea or constipation (chronic or alternating), stool consistency changes or abdominal bloating are typical symptoms of IBS. Sometimes, however, the symptoms of these two conditions overlap.

Theories exist that attempt to explain the correlation between the two conditions. First, one theory suggests that individuals that have heartburn or an irritable bowel may have an altered perception of pain, wherever it is located. Another theory suggests that patient’s irritable bowel syndrome may complain of heartburn or other GERD symptoms. In this case, the individual may actually have IBS of the upper gut. In other cases, the two conditions and related symptoms do overlap as the patient actually does have both conditions.

Because of the potential of the two conditions to overlap, it’s important to get the most accurate diagnosis to obtain the right treatment. Your Albany, GA gastroenterologist, family physician and medical weight loss clinic can help you to untangle your gastroesophageal reflux disease and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Diagnosis may take some time, so be patient. You’ll have to submit to appropriate diagnostic tests. You may even be asked to lose weight. In some cases, you may be given medications to help relieve your heartburn and related symptoms. In the end, you and physicians will work out a plan that brings you the most relief from your gastroesophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome or the pair.

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