How Inflammatory Bowel Disease Is Distinct From Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Many Gastrointestinal issues can have overlapping clinical symptoms.  This can be confusing for patients and really points to the need for an accurate medical diagnosis.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are two bowel disorders that have similar characteristics but differ markedly from one another.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, may manifest itself in several ways; IBS – Diarrhea (IBS-D), IBS – Constipation (IBS-C), or a combination of both.  Patients with IBS may suffer from multiple loose stools daily, abdominal pain, bloating and flatulence (IBS-D).  IBS-C may cause abdominal pain, a sense of fullness and straining at bowel movements.  Treatment options are aimed at controlling a patient’s symptoms.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, is an inflammation of the bowels and consists of two main sub-types; Crohn’s Disease (CD) and Ulcerative Colitis (UC).  IBD may manifest itself as bouts of multiple loose stools daily (flares) with abdominal pain, and sometimes blood in the stool.  Patients may feel as if they have no energy or even develop a fever.  IBD may have serious complications and can lead to surgeries or hospitalizations as a result of inflammation over time.  The goal of therapy in IBD is several folds: to relieve patient’s symptoms, to make sure the bowel is healing and the inflammation is going away, to keep the patient out of the hospital and away from surgery, and finally to cut down on or eliminate patient’s need for steroids.

The main differentiating feature between IBD and IBS is what your doctor sees when they perform a colonoscopy.  In patients with IBD, the doctor will be able to observe redness (inflammation) or ulcerations in the bowel.  Conversely, with IBS, a scope may be completely normal.  If a patient is experiencing continues bouts of diarrhea with or without blood, abdominal pain, etc., the right move is to see a Gastroenterologist.  Your GI doctor will be able to work with you to get the correct diagnosis and then partner with you on the right treatment plan to improve your condition.

If you are suffering from symptoms for either condition, Texas Digestive Disease Consultants can help! Visit us online  for more information.

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