What is the difference between IBS and IBD?  


IBS, also known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a functional bowel issue that can cause diarrhea, constipation, a combination of the two, abdominal cramping, bloating and gas.  You may experience some or all of these symptoms.  There is no good diagnostic test for IBS.  We arrive at this diagnosis by excluding other bowel disorders.  While symptoms are cumbersome, IBS is a benign condition.  Treatment is often geared toward symptom reduction, not necessarily resolution. 


Some tips for symptom reduction include:

-Reduce or eliminate dairy & gluten

-Low FODMAP diet (reduce gas producing foods)

-Food journal (what makes symptoms worse?) 

-Regular exercise (20-60min 3-5 days per week) 

-Antispasmodics (help with cramping and diarrhea)


-Osmotic laxative or other pro-motility agents

-Antidepressants (stimulate neurotransmitters in gut and reduce pain)

-Probiotics (promote good bacteria in the gut which helps with function)

-Antibiotics (help with IBS flare and gut dysbiosis)


IBD, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease, is an autoimmune inflammation and ulceration of the GI tract further classified by Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis (UC).  Crohn's and UC vary in distribution and severity throughout the GI tract.  Crohn's can affect tissue anywhere in the GI tract while UC affects the colon and/or rectum.  Often, patients develop IBD without identifiable cause but increased risk factors include personal history of autoimmune disease and family history of IBD.   Although IBD can occur at any age, it tends to occurs between age 15-30 with a second peak around 5-6th decade.  Treatment for IBD aims for remission or mucosal healing of tissue.  Immune-mediating medications are available in oral, injectable or IV form.  While these medications can be curative while taking, the disease will almost always recur in the absence of medical therapy.  There are multiple factors that impact prognosis and response to treatment.  For instance, tobacco use worsens Crohn's disease and NSAIDs can exacerbate IBD.  Although low inflammation diet may be beneficial, especially during a flare, this alone is not curative for IBD.


Symptoms to look for in IBD (in persistent pattern and typically in combination):

-Blood in the stool

-Abdominal pain (particularly lower)

-Frequent diarrhea including nighttime symptoms 

-Urge to have BM but inability to do so

-Mucous in stool

-Weight loss


Please note, any of these symptoms along with swelling of joints, rash, pain or redness of eyes, oral ulcers, fever may also be indicative of IBD.  Perianal fistulous disease is suspicious for Crohn's.


For more information, call our office to schedule your appointment today!







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