- Similarities & Differences
- Signs & Symptoms
What is IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)?
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a common disorder of the large intestine (colon) that causes symptoms of cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and/or constipation. Researchers and doctors do not know the exact cause of IBS, but they suspect that multiple factors, for example, foods, stress, hormones, or other illnesses combined with gut bacteria trigger abnormal bowel muscle contractions in the gastrointestinal (GI) nervous system.
What is IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term used to describe a group of inflammatory conditions mainly in the large and small bowels. The two most common types of IBD that occur are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, or UC. Other types of IBD include ulcerative proctitis, proctosigmoiditis, left-sided colitis, pancolitis, and acute severe ulcerative colitis.
Are IBS and IBD the same digestive disorders?
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) are not the same problems with the digestive tract. These diseases are often confused because they have some similar symptoms (for example, persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea or vomiting), they sound similar and have almost identical abbreviations.
- IBS usually causes no ulcers or lesions in the bowel, and it involves only the colon.
- IBD causes ulcers in the tissue of the digestive tract that may occur almost anywhere from the mouth to the anus. (Crohn's disease can affect any portion of the GI tract, while ulcerative colitis only affects the large and small intestine, rectum, and anus).
IBD is a term used for a group of bowel diseases that cause inflammation in the digestive tract. The most common forms of IBD are ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease.
Researchers do not know the exact cause of IBS or IBD, however, they suspect multiple factors may cause IBS, and an immune system problem may cause IBD. There is no cure for IBS or IBD, (Crohn's disease and UC), but IBD has more serious symptoms than IBS.
What causes IBS vs. IBD?
Although some patients may show microscopic areas of inflammation in IBS, the causes are speculative and may include hyperreactivity to bacterial gut infections, accelerated or delayed transit of contents through the GI tract (diarrhea or constipation), and abnormal bowel contractions caused by triggers such as foods or stress.
The exact cause of IBD is not known. Researchers suggest the IBD types are caused by an immune system malfunction in the bowel tissue, with a genetic predisposition to develop IBD and the individual’s response to gut microorganisms.
Does stress affect IBS or IBD?
Where does the pain occur in IBS vs. IBD?
Abdominal pain in IBS may be spread over a wide area of the abdomen, but it can localize in the lower left area of it. The pain may intensify while eating meals, when gas is present in the GI tract, and from abdominal bloating. A bowel movement may reduce the pain.
Abdominal pain in IBD may occur anywhere in the abdomen, and its location may suggest the type of IBD that you may have (for example, left-sided abdominal pain is a classic symptom of ulcerative colitis).
What are the similarities in signs and symptoms of IBS and IBD?
Initially, it is difficult for doctors to diagnose IBS and IBD because sometimes some of the symptoms are similar, for example:
What are the differences between the signs and symptoms of IBS vs. IBD?
- Changes in bowel movement
- Changes in how the stools look
- Abdominal bloating
- Whitish mucus in the stool
- A feeling of not having finished a bowel movement.
- Sexual dysfunction
- Urinary frequency and urgency
Symptoms unique to IBD (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) are more serious and include:
What are the treatments of IBS vs. IBD?
Treatment for IBD includes anti-inflammatory drugs like aminosalicylates and corticosteroids, immune system suppressors (many types like azathioprine, cyclosporine, and methotrexate), and antibiotics (metronidazole or ciprofloxacin). Some patients may require surgery (removal of the entire colon and rectum or in others, removal of damaged segments of the small bowel).
Is there a special diet for IBS and IBD?
An IBD diet is designed to reduce any bowel problems aggravated by food.
- Limit dairy products.
- Eat low-fat foods.
- High-fiber foods may aggravate IBD.
- Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Eat small meals.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Consider taking a multivitamin.
- The diet for IBS is far simpler.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid any foods that make you bloated or “gassy.”
- Do not over-eat fiber as this may cause gas and bloating. Probiotics may help reduce symptoms.
Is there a cure for IBS or IBD?
There is no cure for IBD, but treatments can reduce symptoms. There are claims that IBS can be cured with treatments. Discuss treatments with your primary care doctor and your gastroenterologist.
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Lehrer, J. "Irritable Bowel Syndrome." Medscape. Updated: Apr 04, 2017.
Rowe, W. "Inflammatory Bowel Disease." Medscape. Updated: Jun 17, 2016.
Top IBS vs IBD Differences and Similarities Related Articles
What's Causing Your Abdominal Pain?In general, abdominal pain, which may be in the lower left or right of your abdomen, is a symptom of many possible conditions including appendicitis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and others. It may accompany constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Find out the potential causes of pain in the abdomen and learn when you should see a doctor.
Boost Digestive HealthUpset stomach? Some foods may be the culprits, and bad habits may be to blame. Treat your body right with these simple nutrition tips on how to deal with with diarrhea, gas, reflux, and more digestive ailments.
Colonoscopy Procedure and PreparationA colonoscopy is a procedure whereby a docotor inserts a viewing tube (colonoscope) into the rectum for the purpose of inspecting the colon. Colonoscopy is the best method currently available to diagnose, detect, and treat abnormalities within the colon.
DiarrheaDiarrhea is a change in the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal pain, and the sensation of rectal urgency. Causes of diarrhea include viral, bacterial, or parasite infection, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and drugs. Absorbents and anti-motility medications are used to treat diarrhea.
Nutrition QuizEven if you think you're getting enough fruits and vegetables per day, how can you be sure? Take the Diet & Nutrition Quiz to learn more about eating right.
Does a Right Hemicolectomy Remove the Appendix?A hemicolectomy is done if the part of the colon that has been infected, damaged or riddled with colon cancer beyond repair. In case of severe appendicitis or in cancer of the appendix, the surgeon will also cut the appendix along with the right colon and connect what's left of your colon to your small intestine.
Exercise QuizTake our Exercise and Fitness Quiz and learn to maximize your fitness level with simple exercises that do not require major changes to your lifestyle.
IBS SlideshowWhat is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Learn about symptoms, causes, and foods that trigger IBS. Get lifestyle tips for managing IBS through diet and with IBS medications.
Is A Colon Resection A Major Surgery?Colon resection (colectomy) is the surgical removal of part or the entire colon. Colectomy is a major surgery and may take up to four hours for completion. Colectomy is performed under general anesthesia and may require hospitalization for up to a week or more.
Is Capsule Endoscopy Safe?Video or wireless capsule endoscopy is a noninvasive diagnostic procedure for examining the gastrointestinal tract, particularly the small intestine. The patient swallows the capsule endoscope, which transmits images as it passes through the digestive tract. Capsule endoscopy is a safe and well-tolerated procedure for most people.
Low FODMAP Diet for IBS
FODMAPs are foods that contain sugar alcohols and short chain carbohydrates. The gut can't digest them very well. There are "low" FODMAP foods and "high" FODMAP foods. Foods high in FODMAPs lay in the gut and ferment, which causes symptoms of:
- Excessive gas
- Abdominal pain
Some people with digestive diseases and disorders, for example, IBS, microscopic colitis, IBD (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), and other functional bowel disorders often are placed on a low FODMAP diet to decrease the amount of high FODMAPs foods in the diet, which create uncomfortable symptoms.
Stool Color, Changes, Texture and FormStool color changes can very from green, red, maroon, yellow, white, or black. Causes of changes of stool color can range from foods a person eats, medication, diseases or conditions, pregnancy, cancer, or tumors. Stool can also have texture changes such as greasy or floating stools. Stool that has a uncharacteristically foul odor may be caused by infections such as giardiasis or medical conditions.
Stress QuizStress creeps into everyone's life at one time or another, while some people will suffer from poorly managed chronic stress. If you're suffering, there are things you can do. Take the Stress Quiz to learn what you can do to beat the long-term effects of chronic stress.
Top 12 Foods for Constipation ReliefConstipation is a common problem, and almost everyone has been constipated at one time or another. There are foods that can help prevent constipation and also provide relief, for example, kiwi, prunes, beans (your choice of type), berries, certain seeds, potatoes, and popcorn.
15 Foods That Cause ConstipationConstipation or the decrease in frequency and/or difficulty in passing stools (bowel movements) can be caused by a variety of problems. Check out these top 15 foods to avoid because they cause constipation. Some foods to avoid include, white rice and bread, caffeine, bananas, alcohol, processed foods, and frozen dinners.
Ulcerative ColitisUlcerative Colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease and is slightly different than Crohn's disease. Learn the causes, symptoms, diet, and treatment options associated with ulcerative colitis.
What Is A Colon Resection?Colon resection (colectomy) is the surgical removal of part or all of the colon. The surgeon removes the diseased part of the colon and connects the remaining healthy parts (anastomosis).