A Quick Guide to IBD vs. IBS and What You Need to Know
Abdominal cramps, diarrhea, frequent bowel movements, bloody stool, plus fatigue and loss of appetite: It’s all a pain, right? And it all falls under IBS or IBD interchangeably, right?
Wrong. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is much different from Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). In fact, IBS is a less serious problem and does not have the lasting impact of IBD, which includes both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Here are some key differences:
- IBS is a “functional disorder” of the digestive system and can involve cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. It’s no fun, but it doesn’t cause lasting damage to the bowel.
- Inflammation and ulcers are the domain of IBD, which affects approximately 1.4 million Americans. IBS does not cause inflammation or ulcers.
- IBS can be managed by changes in diet and lifestyle.
- IBD is a chronic condition.
- “Attacks” of IBS can last a few weeks. Then, the body regulates itself.
- Diarrhea medicine, constipation medicine, and even antidepressants can help treat IBS.
- Surgery is often necessary to treat IBD.
IBS and IBD can seriously impact your lifestyle, but there are ways to live with both. Although symptoms can overlap, it’s important to ask your doctor about the right tests to determine if your bowel problems are caused by IBS or IBD.