What are the Differences Between IBS and IBD?

When it comes to problems associated with the gastrointestinal tract (the human body’s digestive system that includes the stomach, the small intestine, the large intestine and the colon), the two that are perhaps the most well-known are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Despite their prevalence, when conditions of the gastrointestinal tract are discussed, it’s only really sufferers that fully understand what each entails and the differences between them.

Here is a quick rundown of both IBS and IBD, and how they differ from one another.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is the name given to any number of conditions that affect the digestive system. The symptoms of IBS can include cramping, diarrhea, constipation and bloating. There are a number of factors that can cause IBS, such as the speed in which food passes through your digestive system, stress, having an overly sensitive gut and having a family history of IBS.
There is currently no cure for IBS, and its symptoms can be a permanent part of your life. Relief, however, can be found via dietary changes, medicines such as antispasmodics and other treatments.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD is the name given to a group of inflammatory conditions that affect the small intestine and colon. The two most common examples of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that can also affect the mouth, stomach, esophagus and the anus. Ulcerative colitis only affects the rectum and the colon.

The symptoms of all forms of IBD can include rectal bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal pain, stomach cramps, fatigue, joint pain and weight loss. Severe cases of IDB can include anemia, which is a lack of red (hemoglobin) cells in the blood. Any number of factors can cause IBD, including genetic factors, environmental factors and diet. Crohn’s disease can be managed but cannot be cured, but chronic ulcerative colitis can be cured by proctocolectomy, which is the removal of the rectum and/or parts of the colon.

What Are the Differences?

IBS is a syndrome, whereas IBD is a disease. A syndrome is a set of symptoms and other medical signs that, when correlated with each other, lead to the diagnosis of a disorder. The disorder does not lead to physical damage, but it is something that is uncomfortable for a person to live with.

A disease is an abnormality that, if not treated, can lead to permanent damage to an organ or other part of the body. Diseases can arise via infection, deficiencies, hereditary factors or physiological factors such as abnormal functioning. Diseases – if possible – need to be dealt with before they result in permanent damage, which sometimes can be fatal. IBD in itself is seldom fatal, but it does need to be treated.

If you are having issues with your digestive system and feel the time has come for you to seek expert advice, then please contact us here at Great Lakes Gastroenterology. Our team is ready to deal with your issues, and to help you to improve your life. For a consultation, contact us at (440) 205-1225, or use our online contact form.

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