Both irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are common digestive disorders that cause inflammation and damage to the digestive tract. Although IBS and IBD are quite common, the conditions remain poorly understood. Lack of understanding is pervasive among family members of people who have IBS and IBD. There is a common misconception that the conditions only affect young women, but that’s not true. In fact, both are equal opportunity disorders and do not discriminate on the grounds of age, sex, race, or nationality. In this article, we share some similarities between the two conditions – IBD and IBS.
What is inflammatory bowel disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease (or IBD) is a chronic autoimmune condition of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by the disruption of the bowel movement and abdominal pain. It is a group of intestinal disorders that refers to two conditions – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease can affect almost any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus. Ulcerative colitis mainly affects the large intestine and the rectum, causing inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the colon and rectum.
While a cure for IBD has not been known, treatments may involve managing symptoms and minimizing flare-ups through lifestyle changes, medication, surgery, stress management techniques, or a combination of these methods. IBD primarily affects the colon and rectum, but it can also affect other parts of the body. Symptoms may come and go. IBD patients may experience flare-ups followed by periods of no symptoms.
What is irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS) is a common but functional gastrointestinal condition characterized by a combination of symptoms that include mild to severe abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, and bloating and swelling of stomach. Changes in bowel movements may further lead to constipation or diarrhea. Although all these symptoms are well recognized, they are not specific to IBS. Other medical conditions can exhibit similar symptoms. Abdominal pain is the hallmark symptom of IBS, with pain usually located in the lower half of the abdomen.
The pattern of symptoms may vary from person to person but remains fairly consistent in a given individual, although some variances in the frequency or intensity of symptoms may be there. However, in some cases, people with IBS will have daily symptoms with remission. Although the exact cause of the condition is not known, it is believed to be followed by abnormal muscle contractions in the intestinal walls and/or dysfunction of the gut-brain axis.
Similarities between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
– Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) are two common digestive conditions that are often misdiagnosed because they exhibit similar symptoms. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, irregular bowel movements, which may further lead to constipation or diarrhea. These symptoms, however, are typically more severe in IBD. Additionally, both are associated with an increased risk of developing other conditions such as depression or anxiety.
– The symptoms of both conditions may be triggered after eating or drinking certain foods or beverages, which include wheat, dairy products, fiber, citrus fruits, chocolate, carbonated beverages, and some medications. Emotional stress, environmental factors and hormonal changes may also act as potential triggers. Some researchers suggest ISB and IBD can be the gut’s response to stress and anxiety.
– While there’s no definitive test to accurately diagnose the two conditions, any doctor or general practitioner is likely to start with a complete medical history followed by physical examinations and test to rule out other similar conditions such as celiac disease. Depending on the symptoms, you may have to take other tests, such as blood tests, stool samples, and X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.
– The first line of treatment is self-care, such as high-fiber diet, physical exercises, stress management techniques, and so on. Both conditions can be managed with similar strategies such as dietary changes, therapies, and medications. Loperamide and laxatives can be prescribes to control the symptoms of diarrhea and constipation.
What are the similarities and differences between IBD and IBS?
Both IBS and IBD are common digestive disorders that cause inflammation and damage to the digestive tract. IBS affects the lining of the digestive tract whereas IBD affects the tissues in the digestive tract. IBD can cause complications such as strictures, fistulas, and cancer, whereas IBS has no long-term effects on the digestive system.
Are irritable bowel syndrome IBS and inflammatory bowel disease IBD the same condition?
No, IBS is a chronic digestive disorder that causes abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements whereas IBD causes swelling and irritation in the digestive tract.
Is there a link between IBS and IBD?
The symptoms of both conditions often overlap, which may lead to misdiagnosis. Although IBS and IBD are quite common, the conditions remain poorly understood. IBS is mainly caused by a dysfunctional gut-brain axis, but it can also develop as a result of an enteric infection, and it is associated with persistent immune activation, which is a feature of IBD.
What is an important difference between irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease in terms of presenting symptoms?
Common symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, irregular bowel movements, which may further lead to constipation or diarrhea.
How can you tell the difference between IBS and Crohn’s disease?
While both the condition exhibit similar symptoms such as stomach pain and bloating, changes in bowel movements, and sometimes, diarrhea. However, people with Crohn’s disease may also experience other symptoms, such as loss of weight, vomiting, fever, or even bleeding.
Which are the two most common causes of inflammatory bowel disease?
While the exact cause of IBD is not known, emotional stress, environmental factors and hormonal changes may act as potential triggers.