While joint pain is the most common symptom associated with Hypermobility Syndrome (HMS), HMS can affect other systems in the body. As a result, many HMS patients suffer from digestive problems - constipation, heart burn, diarrhea, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), nausea, vomiting, delayed stomach emptying, Hiatal hernias, early satiety, and severe abdominal pain. These problems are all related to the underlying collagen defect responsible for HMS. Collagen is an important building block for all soft-tissue, and your GI track is one of the longest stretches of soft tissue in your body, which is an invitation for trouble. Just like in your joints, this collagen defect makes the connective tissues in your stomach stretchier than they should be, which makes it harder for your stomach to pass food. As Dr. Brad Tinkle explains in his book, Joint Hypermobility Handbook, "the increased laxity of the connective tissue [in the stomach] results in more difficulty for the muscles to contract. This results in the inability to close various valves throughout the gastrointestinal tract and difficulty pushing foods along for stooling" (p 121).
So, what can you do to treat these GI problems related to hypermobility? One trick is to decrease the amount of fat in your diet - when consuming dairy, choose items made from 2%, skim, or fat-free milk. Another trick is to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day - instead of eating a large breakfastt lunch and dinner, eat a small meal when you wake up, a follow-up snack an hour or two later, a light lunch, another snack around 4pm, and a lighter dinner later in the evening. Spacing your meals out like this should make your digestion easier and more regular.
For those suffering from severe, chronic stomach problems, it is extremely important to adopt a fiber and laxative regiment. I highly recommend reading Cure Constipation Now: A Doctor's Fiber Therapy to Cleanse and Heal by Dr. Wes Jones (available on Amazon.com). This book provides a simple plan for introducing fiber and laxatives into your diet, and it works wonders! My mom has suffered from horrible stomach problems her entire life, and after being on Dr. Jones' regiment for only a few months her IBS symptoms are almost entirely gone! It has been a real miracle for her - IBS symptoms have been interfering with her life, dictating what she can eat and what she can do for years. Now, with this fiber regiment, she is no longer a slave to her stomach. I too have tried it and am amazed by the results - I take fiber supplements (Benefiber and/or Metamucil), stool softeners (Ducolax), laxitives (Miralax), and Magnesium supplements every day. It may sound like a lot, but if you stick to the regimine, it will pay you back ten-fold. You should not start taking these supplements abruptly, however, but instead talk to your doctor or consult Dr. Jones' book to learn how to gradually introduce your body to these supplements. Also, if you are having severe stomach problems, it is always important to talk to your doctor to make sure they are not caused by a more serious condition like Colon cancer.
Hope that helps!