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The Difference between IBS and IBD

When people experience abdominal pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is high on the list. This is because a person can manifest 2 or more of the signs and symptoms of this condition. But, be wary of diagnosing and medicating yourself, make sure to seek for professional medical advice. The gastrointestinal diseases and conditions are quite confusing. You might be doing yourself harm than good.

IBS and IBD are commonly confused by most people, not only because these disorders affect the digestive system, but there are a number of similarities when it comes to the signs and symptoms manifested. However, when it comes to grave consequences, IBD is way much more serious than IBS. The best way to distinguish the differences between the two bowel conditions are through diagnostic examinations such as the following:

  • EGD (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy)

  • Colonoscopy

  • FOBT (Fecal Occult Blood Test)

  • Bowel series

  • Blood examination

  • Stool examination

  • CAT scans

  • X-ray

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)C:\Users\ella\Documents\IBD-shutterstock_14214397.jpg

This gastrointestinal disorder is not a disease rather it is a collection of sign and symptoms. IBS is less severe than IBD. But it can reduce the quality of life and can affect the physical and psychological aspects of a person afflicted with this syndrome. Signs and symptoms can be sudden and most of the time the use of the comfort room is very urgent. It can be very difficult, especially when the person is in a public place where a toilet is not available all the time.

IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)C:\Users\ella\Documents\50-ibd-2-28-11.jpg

Unlike IBS, IBD is classified as a disease. It is characterized by chronic inflammation and ulceration of the bowel. Without any prompt treatment, IBD can lead to a more serious disease like the dreaded cancer, which can be life threatening.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome vs. Inflammatory Bowel Disease





Also known as:

  • Spastic colitis

  • Mucous colitis

*these two other names of IBS are not very accurate because colitis means inflammation of the colon, which is not manifested in this gastrointestinal condition.

  • Spastic colon

  • Nervous diarrhea or nervous stomach

The intestinal linings are hypersensitive resulting in an increase in peristalsis.

Two common types:

  • UC (Ulcerative Colitis) – inflammation of the colon.

  • CD (Crohn’s Disease) – the inflammation can occur anywhere the gastrointestinal tract.


The etiology is unknown, although stress and hormonal changes are said to worsen the condition.

It is a type of autoimmune disease, whereby the immune system is attacking itself.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Irregular bowel movement – diarrhea (more common) or constipation

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Abdominal pain and discomfort

  • Vomiting

  • Fever

  • Abdominal distention

  • Flatulence

  • Belching or burping

  • Diarrhea

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Weight loss

  • Loss of appetite

  • Oral ulcers

  • Bloody stool

  • Fever

  • Skin rashes

  • Joint pain

  • Upper and lower intestinal ulcers

Inflammation of the intestinal lining


Positive – intestinal walls appear reddish and swollen upon diagnostic examination. In some cases the intestines are narrowed due to severe inflammation.

Intestinal Bleeding




  • Changes in dietary regimen

  • Stress management

  • Pain relievers

  • Steroids or immunosuppressive medications

  • Anti-inflammatory medications

  • Pain relievers

  • Surgical procedure

  • Dietary changes

IBS and IBD may share the same symptoms and similar-sounding names, but distinguishing the differences between the two is very essential. It greatly influences the course of treatment given to the patient. Proper dietary regimen and stress management are very salient to reduce the occurrences of these gastrointestinal conditions. So it is important to have a healthy lifestyle and always maintain an overall wellbeing.

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