Bloating associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is more common in those with the constipation subtype. Medications and dietary changes may help relieve symptoms.

In some people, bloating can be a symptom of IBS and may cause them discomfort, pain, or other side effects. Bloating usually occurs due to gas, and someone can experience it for various reasons.

This article discusses IBS bloating, its causes, treatment, and more.

There are jars of vegetables on a table.Share on Pinterest
Arx0nt/Getty Images

Although anyone with IBS may experience bloating, studies suggest it occurs more often in people who have IBS with constipation (IBS-C).

According to a 2021 review, methane gas can accumulate when stool has a reduced or slow transit time through the digestive tract. Sometimes, this may also be due to a bacterial overgrowth, which causes the gut to produce more gas. As the gas accumulates, a person may feel bloated.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) notes that people who have trouble digesting carbohydrates may experience bloating and gas. This can sometimes be due to an intolerance to foods, such as lactose or fructose.

However, the way IBS develops is complex, and scientists do not know exactly why the condition occurs. As IBS involves a gut-brain interaction, stress can be a contributing factor to symptoms.

While there is no cure for IBS, doctors may recommend medication to improve symptoms and help someone feel better. For IBS with symptoms of bloating and constipation, they may recommend peppermint oil and laxatives.

For bloating that is accompanied by belching and flatulence, doctors may recommend the following to ease symptoms:

  • simethicone
  • charcoal tablets
  • alpha-d-galactosidase
  • bismuth subsalicylate
  • antispasmodics, such as dicyclomine or hyoscyamine under the tongue
  • antibiotics to address bacterial overgrowth

The GI Society in Canada notes that guanylate cyclase-C agonists, including linaclotide, mimic natural hormones and can treat IBS-C. They may help reduce bloating and abdominal discomfort.

Additionally, the medication, tenapanor, helps increase the water content of stools, making them easier to pass.

Various home remedies may help a person manage bloating associated with IBS.

Avoiding certain foods

Avoiding certain foods may help reduce gas and bloating. Food to avoid include:

  • carbonated soft drinks
  • beer
  • cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage
  • beans
  • bran
  • milk and other dairy products
  • chewing gum or sucking on candy
  • artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol, sucralose, and sugar alcohols

Learn more about foods to avoid with IBS.

Low FODMAP diet

One particular diet that may be helpful is the low FODMAP diet, which limits certain carbohydrates. A person can consult a doctor or a registered dietitian for advice about the FODMAP diet.


Probiotics may also be helpful for IBS. Probiotics are available as supplements and are naturally present in fermented foods, which include:

  • sauerkraut
  • natural yogurt
  • kombucha
  • kimchi
  • miso
  • tempeh

A registered dietitian can help people incorporate probiotics or fermented foods into their meal plans.

Other remedies

It may be beneficial to avoid consuming large amounts of liquids with meals and allow sufficient time for eating and emptying the bowels.

Some evidence suggests that ginger may help gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating. The herbal effects of ginger are carminative — it relieves flatulence — by reducing pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, which is implicated in increased gas. People can add fresh ginger to hot water to sip, or they can add it to their meals.

Learn more about the treatment options for IBS.

As experts do not know exactly what causes IBS, it is difficult to say if someone can prevent symptoms of bloating due to the condition.

However, treating IBS and making dietary changes may help reduce bloating. Additionally, because experts associate IBS with the interaction between the gut and the brain, addressing any underlying stress with a medical professional could be helpful.

It is best to contact a doctor for advice about treating IBS and any related symptoms.

Here are some frequently asked questions about IBS.

What does IBS bloating feel like?

Bloating may feel like a sense of fullness in the abdomen. A person may also experience belching or flatulence. A person’s stomach may look swollen, and they may feel uncomfortable or as if their clothes are tighter.

How do you soothe an IBS flare-up?

A doctor can advise a person on ways to manage an IBS flare-up. This may include medications and dietary changes.

Learn more about coping with IBS.

How long can IBS flare-ups last?

An IBS flare may last from days up to months. A doctor can recommend treatments to manage a person’s symptoms and reduce the severity of their flare-ups.

Learn more about how long IBS flare-ups can last.

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can experience bloating as a symptom, particularly if they have constipation. Slow transit of the stool through the digestive tract can lead to an increased amount of gas, which may build up and cause someone to feel uncomfortable. A person may also have additional symptoms of flatulence or belching.

Medications and dietary changes may help relieve bloating. A person may wish to contact a doctor to discuss changes to their diet.