Invisible and persistent, nausea can be one of the most frustrating symptoms of IBS. It can get in the way of living even more than those IBS episodes that send you running for the bathroom. However, not everyone with IBS will experience nausea along with other symptoms of IBS, such as painful cramps and bloating.

The Causes of IBS Nausea

There are dozens of reasons that you may experience nausea, including:

  • allergic reaction to food
  • inner ear infection
  • gallstones
  • migraines
  • early pregnancy
  • virus

Any change in your gastrointestinal system (including your stomach, small intestine, and large intestine) can trigger nausea. Receptors in your stomach react to how quickly food is moving through your stomach and intestines. If food is not moving through your gut because you are bloated, constipated, or have dramatic muscle contractions, these receptors can signal your brain that there's a problem, and this makes you feel nauseous.

The following can cause nausea by activating the receptors in your gut that signal your brain:

  • food sensitivities or food allergies
  • alcohol
  • medications or additives in medications
  • anxiety and worry over your health due to IBS symptoms

What You Can Do to Reduce Nausea

The most important long-term goal is to get a handle on your IBS. Try the following:

  • Use a food diary to record behaviors or foods that trigger your symptoms.
  • Eat more fiber, yogurt, and probiotics as well as smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Talk with your doctor about medications and supplements that may help reduce your spasms and resolve diarrhea, constipation, and gas.  

To relieve the nausea itself, work on relaxation exercises, biofeedback techniques, and getting exercise. Reducing stress can help reduce nausea. If that is not an option or your symptoms are just too powerful to allow you to relax, medications and supplements may help.

  • Antidepressants can increase your serotonin levels, reduce anxiety and depression, and may help relieve IBS symptoms such as nausea.
  • Anticholinergic medications such as dicyclomine may help with nausea, but can result in constipation, dry mouth, sleepiness, and your ability to sweat.
  • Antiemetic medications such as ondansetron and metoclorpramide work well. However, they can also cause movement disorders, low blood pressure, and drowsiness.
  • Over the counter medications like Pepto-Bismol and milk of magnesia may help relieve some nausea, but long-term use may cause other health problems.

Peppermint: A Natural Remedy

Peppermint oil is a natural supplement that may help relieve nausea and relax the muscles in your intestines. Several studies have shown that peppermint oil and peppermint tea can be beneficial in IBS, but can also cause side effects such as heartburn.

An enteric-coated peppermint oil capsule may reduce heartburn and reflux. However, too much peppermint oil can be toxic, so talk to your doctor before taking any supplements or medications.

Finding your own personal path toward reducing your IBS symptoms starts with understanding your triggers. Once you've got a handle on those, you can use better eating habits, stress-reduction methods, medications and supplements to tackle both your nausea and the overall condition.