Does IBS Cause Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis?

  • Medical Author:
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Dennis Lee, MD
    Dennis Lee, MD

    Dennis Lee, MD

    Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

Ask the experts

Does IBS lead to Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis?

Doctor's response

There is no evidence that IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a forerunner of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, together referred to as IBD). Having said that, there are interesting new observations that suggest that some of the factors causing IBS and IBD may be similar, involving the intestinal immune system and bacteria within the intestine. The great differences between IBS and IBD makes it unlikely that they are caused by identical processes. It is more likely that the manifestations they share-for example, abdominal pain and diarrhea-are a function of the ability of the intestine to respond to disease-causing processes, no matter how different, in a limited number of ways.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Irritable Bowel Syndrome"

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Reviewed on 9/11/2017