IBS & IBD: What's The Difference?
Similar symptoms, different condition
A correct diagnosis is important for health problems to be treated properly. Some illnesses can have similar symptoms, but be different in origin and recommended treatment. IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and IBD, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease, is no exception. Both of these conditions are gastrointestinal in nature but IBS is generally considered an abnormality in the function of the bowels, requiring a considerably less aggressive treatment regimen, and is not classified as a disease like IBD.
What are the characteristics of IBS?
IBS is a syndrome, which means there is more than one symptom associated with the condition, and its presence is usually accompanied by other disorders. People who suffer from IBS complain of pain in the abdomen that doesn't go away, watery bowel movements, difficulty in producing a bowel movement, or both. Additional symptoms are swelling or bloating of the abdomen, nausea, and stress related to bowel function. IBS increases the chances that the sufferer has or will develop consistent pain in the pelvis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and TMJ. All of these affect healthy bodily function.
Causes of IBS
Stress can complicate IBS, but is probably not the cause. Fluctuations in the way muscles contract inside the bowel may be the root of the problem. The nerves in the bowel become irritated when there is a strong or violent reaction to daily occurrences. These include stress, and the consumption of certain foods. Waste can then be passed too quickly or not quickly enough, resulting in abdominal pain. Studies also indicate that hormones are associated with IBS, and this is supported by the percentage of women who develop the disorder. The number of women who develop IBS is almost double that of men. Genes can also contribute to IBS, but to what extent has not been determined.
IBS and IBD: Comparing Dangers
IBS is not known to cause damaging inflammation like IBD, which is why it is not usually a cause for alarm. Disruption associated with IBS does not cause irreparable damage to the intestines, or bleeding in the intestines. The treatment for IBS can usually be made in lifestyle changes including decreasing stress, taking herbal supplements, or through mild over-the-counter medication. IBD is a serious disease characterized by an inflammation of the bowel. Treatment is administered in the form of surgery, immunosuppression, and steroids.
Short and long term effects of IBS
Although IBS is not characterized as a disease, it can negatively impair a person's overall health. IBS can cause chronic pain and frustration. It can promote low self-esteem, and inhibit social activities and work. Improper diagnosis and/or treatment of IBS can be expensive and time-consuming.
Is this IBS?
Symptoms of IBS are manageable, including decreasing stress levels, knowing what aggravates your particular symptoms, and eating a balanced diet. If you are experiencing severe chronic pain without relief, it is best to speak with a doctor. Diagnosing IBD is crucial in getting the more aggressive treatment you may need.