Can irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) cause you to vomit?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be complicated to diagnose because it has many different symptoms that can overlap with other medical conditions. In this article, we'll be looking to see if IBS can cause you to experience nausea and vomiting, as well as remedies that can help manage these symptoms.

A sick girl with blonde hair lying face down on the bed, gazing at the floor

Key takeaways:

  • Nausea and vomiting can be associated with IBS, which is a gastrointestinal condition. Gastroenteritis, abdominal pain, and upper gastrointestinal malfunctions are the possible causes of nausea in people with IBS. 
  • Other medical conditions that can cause nausea and vomiting include migraine headaches, gastroparesis, non-ulcer dyspepsia, and peptic ulcer.
  • Some home remedies for IBS-related nausea include diet adjustments as well as physical and psychological exercises.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder. It is characterized by the development of a group of symptoms that occur together, such as changes in bowel movements and repeated abdominal pain that may result in diarrhea, constipation, or both.

Although the root cause of IBS is unknown, it is considered to occur as a result of poor signaling between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. 

Nausea and vomiting are two common symptoms associated with a lot of gastrointestinal and digestive disorders. And it is possible to experience nausea and vomiting with IBS. However, not all IBS patients will report feeling nauseous or vomiting. 

Nausea and vomiting in people with IBS

When diagnosing IBS, certain symptoms are taken into consideration, including bloating, diarrhea, constipation, poor bowel movement, and, in some cases, nausea, which may, in turn, result in vomiting.

Vomiting seen in people with IBS is often an aftereffect of prevalent IBS symptoms, such as nausea. 

One research study conducted on IBS patients found that 38% of their female patients and 27% of their male patients reported experiencing nauseating feelings alongside other IBS symptoms.

Possible causes of nausea and vomiting in people with IBS

Certain medical conditions, as well as some IBS symptoms, may increase the chances of nausea and vomiting in people with IBS. Here's a look at some of the possible causes of nausea and vomiting in people with IBS:

1. Gastroenteritis

Research shows that gastroenteritis can present similar symptoms to those of IBS, including nausea and vomiting, and can eventually result in IBS with time. If you develop IBS following gastroenteritis, you may still experience symptoms of nausea and vomiting. However, it's important to note that for IBS patients, episodes of gastroenteritis can trigger their IBS symptoms; this is known as post-infective IBS.

2. Abdominal pain

Nausea and vomiting can be linked to visceral pain (pain coming from internal abdominal organs and blood vessels). [5] And since abdominal pain is a common symptom of IBS, people with the condition may also experience nausea and vomiting.

3. Upper gastrointestinal malfunctions

The upper gastrointestinal tract consists of the mouth, pharynx (throat), esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the upper part of the intestine).

Each of the organs mentioned above aids in the digestion of food substances. Certain persistent malfunctions or malformations in any of the organs that make up the upper gastrointestinal tract may disrupt an individual's digestive process. 

A 2017 research study indicated that nausea and vomiting are two common symptoms of upper gastrointestinal malfunctions seen in people with IBS. Other symptoms would include heartburn, dyspepsia (indigestion), and belching.

Home remedies for nausea in people with IBS

Some home remedies may be helpful in treating nausea for people with IBS. Some of these home remedies include:

1. Dietary adjustment

Certain foods in your diet may trigger you to have recurring IBS symptoms. This is why it is important to consult with a dietitian or nutritionist. They will create for you a customized meal plan that will not only keep you nourished but also reduce the chances of IBS symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

2. Psychological and physical activities

Certain physical and psychological activities may help reduce IBS symptoms in people prone to them. Some of the activities include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Hypnosis
  • Acupuncture
  • Other relaxation techniques

3. Herbal products and supplements

Certain herbal supplements, such as peppermint oil, may be useful home remedies for IBS and some other gastrointestinal conditions as they can help provide temporary relief.

Other medical conditions that can cause nausea

There are a lot of health conditions that may have nausea as a common symptom. Some of these medical conditions include:

  • Migraine headache
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (a condition caused by the recurring reflux of the acidic contents of the stomach into the esophagus)
  • Peptic ulcer (a sore in the lining of the lower esophagus, the stomach, or the upper part of the duodenum caused by gastric acid secretion)
  • Non-ulcer dyspepsia (indigestion unrelated to an ulcer)
  • Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (recurring abnormal change in heart rate due to a change of posture) 
  • Bowel obstruction (an abnormal condition that occurs when nerves and brain signals prevent food from passing along the digestive tract in the absence of any physical blockage)
  • Autonomic dysfunction (a malfunction with the area of your brain in charge of digestive processes)
  • Gastroparesis (a malfunction in the nerves or muscles of the stomach that results in slow emptying of the stomach)

Stress management for nausea in people with IBS

Prolonged stress may be one of the leading causes of IBS. However, the following stress management techniques can help provide temporary relief: 

Gut-directed hypnotherapy:

Gut-directed hypnotherapy involves educating patients about the digestive system, the use of hypnotic induction, and the use of specially tailored images designed by specialists to aid in normalizing the functions of the gastrointestinal tract. 

A 2017 research study with IBS patients placed on gut-directed hypnotherapy stated that the patients experienced an improvement in their IBS symptoms, ranging from 24% to 73%.

Meditation and mindfulness:

For people with IBS, meditation, and mindfulness can help improve the symptom's severity and quality of life. These relaxation techniques can also enhance mood and mental health in people with IBS.


Yoga may be considered an effective pharmacotherapeutic exercise as it helps improve physiological, psychological, and emotional health. A research study was published in 2022 on the effects of yoga on adults diagnosed with IBS. The test results of the research would show that yoga may be helpful in relieving stress for certain people with IBS.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy(CBT):

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of treatment initially used to treat certain mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Concerning IBS, cognitive-behavioral therapy uses relaxation techniques like guided imagery, deep breathing, and muscle relaxation to address some symptoms of IBS.

These relaxation techniques can help initiate a rest and digestion response in people with IBS. Some studies have shown that 1 in 3 people showed signs of improvement while undergoing cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Another research study also stated that patients who underwent cognitive-behavioral therapy experienced a significantly improved quality of life.

Seeking medical attention for nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are often associated with mental and digestive-related medical conditions. If you have recurring feelings of nausea and soon after you vomit or feel like vomiting, then you must see your doctor or a gastroenterologist for a proper diagnosis.


  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (2017) Definition and Facts of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  2. Full-Young Chang (2012) Why Do Irritable Bowel Syndrome Women Often Have Nausea Symptoms?
  3. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (2023) Nausea- Is the IBS culprit 
  4. Hirotada Akiho et al. (2010) Low-grade inflammation plays a pivotal role in gastrointestinal dysfunction in irritable bowel syndrome
  5. Roger Sherman (1990) Abdominal pain
  6. Tuba Obekli et al. (2017) Belching in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Impedance Study
  7. National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health (2023) Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What You Need To Know. 
  8. N. Alammar et al. (2019) The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data
  9. Stanford Health Care (2023) Chronic Nausea Causes 
  10. GI Society: Canadian Society of Intestinal Research (2022)Gut Directed Hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  11. S L Peters et al. (2015). Gut-directed Hypnotherapy in The Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
  12. Cristian-Ioan Baboș et al. (2022) Meditation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
  13. Adrijana D'Silva et al. (2023) Meditation and Yoga for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial
  14. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders.(2021) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for IBS.
  15. Sarah W Kinsinger (2017) Cognitive-behavioral therapy for patients with irritable bowel syndrome: current insights