IBS and IBD – Here Is How Both The Conditions Differ From Each Other

IBS and IBD are commonly confused with each other. This is probably because both the conditions are similar. However, both IBS and IBD have different causes and treatment plans. To begin with, IBS stands for irritable bowel syndrome. On the flip side, IBD stands for inflammatory bowel disease.

Both the conditions culminate in diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Here is an in-depth look at both the health concerns:

What is IBD?

Inflammatory bowel disease is a term that is collectively used to describe inflammatory conditions, which affect the digestive tract. These include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

It causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract that starts at the mouth and extends to the stomach and intestine including the end, the anus. This is a long-term condition that does not have a cure.

Two main types of IBD are:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation patches, which can damage several layers of the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, this IBD type typically affects parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Commonly, the victims are the start of the colon and the small intestine.

On the other hand, ulcerative colitis causes inflammation in the rectum and colon. It affects continuous areas that cause inflammation in the innermost layer of the colon wall. This is what differentiates ulcerative colitis with Crohn’s disease, which is not continuous.

Reasons behind IBD are not common. Doctors believe that it occurs due to some problem in the immune system. Genetic and lifestyle factors such as smoking can increase the risk of developing IBD.

Common symptoms of IBD include:

  • Unintended weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in stools
  • Abdominal cramping and pain
  • A sensation that the bowel is not empty after a bowel movement

Blood tests, stool tests, CT scan or X-ray, endoscopy, and colonoscopy are tests that can help diagnose the condition.

What is IBS?

This is a long-term condition, which affects the intestines. Unlike IBD, IBS does not show any visible indications of inflammation or damage in the alimentary canal. Irritable bowel syndrome is pretty common, impacting roughly 12% of the population in the US.

It is more common among people under the age marker of 50 as compared to older people. Again, like IBD, it is not clear what stands as the reason behind IBS. Doctors understand that gut sensitivity and digestive problems may have a role to play.

Mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression can increase the risk of developing IBS. Genetics may also have a role to play. IBS affects bowel habits, culminating in constipation or diarrhea. Leading symptoms of IBS include:

  • Gas and bloating
  • Abdominal cramping and pain
  • Mucus in the stool
  • A feeling of incomplete emptying of the rectum

Blood and stool tests, endoscopy, and hydrogen breath test are some ways to learn about IBS.

Take Home Message

IBS and IBD are different conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract. It is best to be aware of the differences so that you can understand your situation better.