IBS vs. IBD: Differences and Similarities Center

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:


Symptoms unique to irritable bowel syndrome include:
  • Sexual problems
  • Fibromyalgia
  • 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.

REFERENCES:

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

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Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/3/2020

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