IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) are both problems with the digestive tract
(gastrointestinal or GI tract), but they are not the same disease. IBS is a functional disorder
(a problem with the way the GI tract functions), and IBD is a disease that
causes chronic prolonged inflammation of the GI tract, that can lead to ulcers
and other problems that may require surgery. The most common forms of IBD are
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, or UC.
Researchers do not know the exact cause of either disease, but they believe that IBS may be caused and triggered by a variety of factors (foods, stress, and the nervous system of the GI tract), while IBD may be genetic or due a problem with the immune system.
Common symptoms of both diseases are an urgent need to have a bowel movement, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain and cramping.
There are differences between the signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, for example, symptoms unique to IBD are:
- Joint pain or soreness
- Skin changes
- Rectal bleeding
- Eye redness or pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Feeling tired
Symptoms unique to irritable bowel syndrome include:
- Sexual problems
- Abdominal bloating
- Whitish mucous in the stool
- Changes in bowel movements and in the way stools look
- An urgent need to urinate
- Urinating frequently
Treatment for IBS is with diet recommendations from a doctor or nutritionist, medication, and lifestyle changes like stress management and avoiding foods that trigger the condition. Treatments for IBD depend upon the type of disease, its symptoms, and health of the patient. Surgery may be necessary for some individuals.
Brown, AC, et al. "Existing Dietary Guidelines for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis." Medscape.
Lehrer, J. "Irritable Bowel Syndrome." Medscape. Updated: Apr 04, 2017.
Rowe, W. "Inflammatory Bowel Disease." Medscape. Updated: Jun 17, 2016.
Romanowski, A, MS, RD. "Matching the Right Diet to the Right Patient." Medscape. Jan 27, 2017. Read more: IBS vs. IBD: Differences and Similarities Article
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Diet, Treatment
What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Learn about symptoms, causes, and foods that trigger IBS. Get lifestyle tips for managing...
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...
Super Tips to Boost Digestive Health: Bloating, Constipation, and More
Upset stomach? Some foods may be the culprits, and bad habits may be to blame. Treat your body right with these simple nutrition...
Ulcerative Colitis: Symptoms, Diet, Treatment, Causes
Ulcerative Colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease and is slightly different than Crohn's disease. Learn the causes,...
Digestive Disorders: Worst Foods for Digestion
Discover which foods to avoid in order to prevent diarrhea and digestive problems. Find out which foods can trigger diarrhea and...
Crohn's Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Diet
What is Crohn's disease? Get more information on this digestive disorder and how Crohn's can affect your diet. Learn more about...
Exercise and Fitness: 10 Budget-Friendly Exercise Gadgets
There are plenty of cheap and free ways to exercise. Learn about inexpensive ways to get in shape with the use of jump ropes,...
Exercises for Seniors: Tips for Core, Balance, Stretching
Exercise for seniors is important for healthy and successful aging. Learn about core strengthening, balance exercises, and...
Stress Relief: 10 Ways to Stop Stress
Stop stress and stress-related problems like overeating, headaches, hives, and anxiety. Try simple interventions like chewing...
What Is Fibromyalgia (Fibro)? Symptoms, Causes, Helpful Treatments
What is fibromyalgia? Learn the possible causes of fibro, along with standard and alternative treatments for this chronic...
Digestive Health: 10 Probiotic Foods That Help Digestion
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and yeasts found in probiotic foods and fermented products like kimchi, kombucha, and kefir....
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
What is inflammatory bowel disease? IBD can include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Learn more about testing, treatments,...
Pictures of the 7 Most Effective Exercises to Do at the Gym or Home (and Tips to Improve Form)
These seven exercises deliver fitness results at home or in the gym. Start your training to better physical health with the most...
Pictures of the 7 Riskiest Workout Moves, and How to Improve Them
Working out is supposed to make you healthier--but some exercises can leave your body at risk of pain or injury. Some exercises...
Diet and Nutrition Quiz: Plans & Facts
Even if you think you're getting enough fruits and vegetables per day, how can you be sure? Take the Diet & Nutrition Quiz to...
Stress Quiz: Test Your Emotional IQ
Stress creeps into everyone's life at one time or another, while some people will suffer from poorly managed chronic stress. If...
Ulcerative Colitis Quiz: Diet, Symptoms & Treatment
What is ulcerative colitis and what risks are associated with suffering over the long term? Take this Ulcerative Colitis Quiz to...
Constipation: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid
Take this quiz to find out what foods to eat, and what foods to avoid to prevent or relieve constipation.
Stomach Pain Quiz: Nausea & Other Causes
Tummy Troubles? Get a better idea of what's causing the nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, pain, and other...
Exercise and Fitness Quiz: Test Your IQ
Take our Exercise and Fitness Quiz and learn to maximize your fitness level with simple exercises that do not require major...
Crohn's Disease Quiz
What causes Crohn's disease? What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease? How is Crohn's treated? Take this quiz to get the facts...
No-Gym Workout in Pictures: Equipment, Routines, and More
Learn about this no-gym, at home quick workout. It can get you into great shape at home and shows the best moves for flat abs and...
Diet for Stress Management: Carbs, Nuts, and Other Stress-Relief Foods
While there are many ways to cope with stress, one strategy is to eat stress-fighting foods. Find out which foods to eat as part...
Fibromyalgia Relief: Treatments and Tips to Ease Pain and Other Symptoms
What is fibromyalgia? Learn about fibromyalgia symptoms such as trigger points (also called tender points), learn what causes...
Vegetarian Diet: Benefits, Meat Substitutions, and Meal Plans
Vegetarian diet plans have benefits like weight loss and reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Vegetarian diet...
Fibromyalgia Pain Relief: Stretching and Strength Exercises
Living with fibromyalgia is painful. By making simple exercise modifications, you can boost your energy, decrease pain and...
Exercise Tips for Kids and the Whole Family
Exercise is great for kids, and fun activities for the whole family are there if you know how to find them. Learn how to lose...
Benefits of Exercise: Fitness Facts Prove the Benefits of Working Out
The best way to lose weight? These fast facts show weight loss is possible for everyone trying to lose weight. From calories to...
Related Disease Conditions
15 Foods That Cause Constipation
Constipation 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.
Stool Color, Changes, Texture and Form
Stool 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.
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 Bloating Abdominal pain Diarrhea 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.
Top 12 Foods for Constipation Relief
Constipation 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.
Colitis refers to inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. Symptoms of the inflammation of the colon lining include diarrhea, pain, and blood in the stool. There are several causes of colitis, including infection, ischemia of the colon, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, infectious colitis like C. difficile, or microscopic colitis). Treatment depends on the cause of the colitis.
Blood in the Stool (Rectal Bleeding, Hematochezia)
Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding (hematochezia) refers to the passage of bright red blood from the anus. Common causes include anal fissures, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, colitis, Crohn's disease, colon and rectum polyps, and cancer. The color of the blood in the stool may provide information about the origin of the bleeding. The color of stool with blood in it may range from black, red, maroon, green yellow, gray, or white, and may be tarry, or sticky. Treatment of blood in the stool depends on the cause.
Diarrhea 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.
Abdominal pain can have many causes that range from mild to severe. Some of these causes include bloating, gas, colitis, endometriosis, food poisoning, GERD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, abdominal adhesions, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and cancers. Signs and symptoms of the more serious causes include dehydration, bloody or black tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, pain with no urination or painful urination. Treatment for abdominal pain depends upon the cause.
Why Does My Stomach Hurt After Every Meal?
Stomach pain after meals is a symptom of many conditions. Learn the signs of stomach pain after every meal, what causes stomach pain, how doctors diagnose stomach pain, and what you can do to treat stomach pain after every meal. Your digestive system breaks down food into nutrients your body needs to function properly. Here are 6 ways to improve digestive health and promote healthy gut bacteria.
Stress is a normal part of life, but chronic or severe stress can be harmful to your health. Learn what happens in your body when you are stressed and how you can manage your response.
Intestinal Gas and Gas Pain
Intestinal gas and painful bloating are common. Learn about what causes gas pain and how eliminating certain foods from your diet can help relieve symptoms.
Laxatives for Constipation
Laxatives types for the treatment of constipation include over-the-counter (OTC) preparations, for example, bulk-forming laxatives, stool softeners, lubricant laxatives, stimulants, or saline laxatives, enemas, and suppositories.
Constipation is defined medically as fewer than three stools per week and severe constipation as less than one stool per week. Constipation usually is caused by the slow movement of stool through the colon. There are many causes of constipation including medications, poor bowel habits, low-fiber diets, laxative abuse, and hormonal disorders, and diseases primarily of other parts of the body that also affect the colon.
IBS-D (Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Diarrhea)
IBS-D or irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea refers to IBS with diarrhea. Symptoms of IBS-D include intestinal gas (flatulence), loose stools, frequent stools, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea. New non-FDA approved IBS tests may help diagnose IBS and IBS-D. Treatment of IBS-D is geared to toward managing symptoms with diet, medication, and lifestyle changes.
Ulcerative Colitis Diet Plan
An ulcerative colitis diet plan can help a person with the disease avoid foods and drinks that trigger flares. There also are foods that can soothe ulcerative colitis symptoms during a flare. Types of ulcerative colitis plans include a high-calorie diet, a lactose-free diet, a low-fat diet, a low-fiber diet (low-residue diet), or a low-salt diet. Self-management of ulcerative colitis using healthy lifestyle habits and a nutrient rich diet can be effective in management of the disease. Learn what foods to avoid that aggravate, and what foods help symptoms of the disease and increase bowel inflammation.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are symptoms of many conditions including motion sickness, pregnancy, emotional stress, gallbladder disease, and other illnesses. Learn about causes, treatment, and when to be concerned.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the colon. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Ulcerative colitis is closely related to Crohn's disease, and together they are referred to as inflammatory bowel disease. Treatment depends upon the type of ulcerative colitis diagnosed.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and tender points. Stress reduction, exercise, and medication are the standard treatments for fibromyalgia.
Crohn's Disease vs. Ulcerative Colitis (UC)
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases that cause inflammation of part of or the entire digestive tract (GI). Crohn's affects the entire GI tract (from the mouth to the anus), while ulcerative colitis or ulcerative colitis only affects the large and small intestine and ilium. Researchers do not know the exact cause of either disease. About 20% of people with Crohn's disease also have a family member with the disease. Researchers believe that certain factors may play a role in causing UC. Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are a type of inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis both have similar symptoms and signs, for example, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, episodic and/or persistent diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal bleeding, bloody stools, joint pain and soreness, eye redness, or pain. Symptoms unique to Crohn’s disease include anemia and skin changes. Symptoms of unique to ulcerative colitis include certain rashes, and an urgency to defecate (have a bowel movement). Doctors diagnose both diseases with similar tests and procedures. While there is no cure for either disease, doctors and other health care professionals can help you treat disease flares, and manage your Crohn's or ulcerative colitis with medication, diet, nutritional supplements, and/or surgery.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The intestinal complications of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis differ because of the characteristically dissimilar behaviors of the intestinal inflammation in these two diseases.
IBS Triggers (Prevention)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disease that can affect the quality of those who suffer from this condition. People with IBS can make lifestyle changes that may modify or control the number and severity of episodes. Certain foods, medications, and hormone levels may trigger IBS episodes, for example fatty foods, dairy products, eating foods in large quantities, foods that contain high levels of sorbitol, foods that produce intestinal gas (broccoli, onions, cabbage, and beans), chocolate, caffeine, physiological stress, some antibiotics, some antidepressants, medicine with sorbitol, and menstrual pain. Exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes can decrease IBS flares, and prevent the number and severity of IBS episodes of diarrhea and constipation.
Stress Management Techniques
Stress may be considered as any physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental unrest and that may be a factor in disease causation. Managing stress in our lives is important. Elimination of stress is unrealistic, since stress is a part of normal life. We can however, learn to manage stress through techniques such as exercise, relaxation, meditation, time management, and support systems so that we have control over our stress and its effects on our physical and mental health.
What Is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss are common symptoms.
Is Colitis Contagious?
Colitis is a term that us used to describe inflammation of the colon. The terms enteritis, proctitis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) now include colitis. Colitis has many different causes. Some types of colitis are contagious and some are not contagious. Symptoms and signs of colitis include diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, cramping, pain, and blood in the stools. Treatment for colitis depends on the cause and type of colitis.
Nausea and vomiting after eating are symptoms that may be caused by many conditions. Antiemetics are drugs that help get rid of nausea and vomiting. Though some antiemetics for motion sickness and mild nausea remedies are available over the counter (OTC), most require a medical evaluation and prescription. Read experts describing what causes nausea and how to stop nausea and vomiting.
Is Crohn's Disease Contagious?
Crohn's disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and is characterized by symptoms and signs that include diarrhea, fever, weight loss, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Though Crohn's disease is not contagious it can spread throughout a person's gastrointestinal tract. An increase in the above symptoms and signs warrants a visit to a doctor's office.
What Happens if Crohn’s Is Left Untreated?
Crohn's disease worsens without treatment. When left untreated, Crohn's spreads throughout the intestinal tract, causing severe symptoms and a bleaker outlook to treatment. Colon cancer is more likely to develop in people with untreated Crohn’s in their large intestine.
Job Stress and Your Health
Early warning signs of job stress include headache, sleep disturbance, difficulty in concentrating, short temper, upset stomach, job dissatisfaction, and low morale. Stress on the job can be damaging to your health in that job stress is the outcome when job demands cannot be met.
Local ResourcesFind a local Doctor in your town
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
- Antidepressants (Depression Medications)
- Corticosteroids (Systemic, Oral, Injections, Types)
- prednisone (Prednisone Intensol, Rayos) Corticosteroid
- acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
- Prenatal Vitamins (Side Effects and Types)
- Cipro, Cipro XR (ciprofloxacin) Antibiotic Side Effects
- dicyclomine (Bentyl) vs. hyoscyamine (Levbid)
- Topical Corticosteroids
- methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall)
- Bentyl (dicyclomine) vs. Librax (chlordiazepoxide HCL and clidinium bromide)
- MoviPrep (PEG-3350, Sodium Sulfate, SodiumChloride, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Ascorbate)
- cyclosporine - oral, Sandimmune
- Dicyclomine vs. Donnatal
- rifaximin (Xifaxan)
- azathioprine (Azasan)
- alosetron (Lotronex)
- Types of Medications for Crohn's Disease
- Trulance (plecanatide)
- lubiprostone (Amitiza)
- cyclosporine - intravenous, Sandimmune
- Ibsrela (tenapanor)
Prevention & Wellness
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter