Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Confusing Two Conditions

IBS And IBD.  What Is The Difference?

Although often confused, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease are not the same thing.  Because both conditions sound similar, many people ask us if they have Irritable Bowel Disease and we help explain that this condition does not exist.  Either consult your proctologist, also known as a colon and rectal surgeon, or read this article to understand the differences and learn why there is such confusion.

Not feeling So Well.

You know the feeling when something in your gut just doesn’t seem right. At first you run through the list of foods you’ve eaten in the last 24 hours and wonder if it could be the griller hot dogs you ate from the quickie-mart or that potato salad someone brought to the company party. But you rule out both of those since no one else is at work is feeling sick, and your entire family dined on the quickie-mart dogs and haven’t otherwise complained.

And that’s when you realize, you’ve developed a pattern of recurrent gastrointestinal problems that makes you wonder what’s going on down there. And if you’re like most moderately tech-savvy people, you’ll consult Dr. Google before scheduling an appointment to see your real doctor.

But in the unfiltered Internet universe, you’re bound to uncover all kinds of potential conditions like irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, or some combination of those terms. While you’re puzzled with the amount of bathroom visits made in the last few weeks, you have to wonder: Is it irritable bowel disease or something else?

The Truth About IBD

If you have long-term and recurrent gastrointestinal problems that don’t seem to be tied to a specific food-borne illness, you should see your doctor. But regardless of your symptoms, you won’t get a diagnosis for irritable bowel disease or inflammatory bowel syndrome. These are not actual medical conditions, but only a common confusion of words for two entirely different gastrointestinal problems properly referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Here’s the truth about inflammatory bowel disease. An estimated 5 million people worldwide suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, sometimes referred to as Crohn’s disease or  ulcerative colitis. And in the U.S. about 1.4 million Americans have been diagnosed with IBD. It’s a serious gastrointestinal disease that can limit a person’s ability to work, spend time in social settings, and lead a normal life.

IBD Symptoms

Symptoms of IBD can include long-term diarrhea, unexplained and recurring abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, fever and fatigue. But those are not the only indicators. Similar symptoms can be confused for irritable bowel syndrome. But IBD is far more serious. In addition to gastrointestinal discomfort, those with IBD also have inflammation in the intestines and digestive tract that is not present in those with irritable bowel syndrome. Inflammation caused by IBD can damage the intestines, cause internal bleeding, and even increase the risk for colon cancer.

IBD Diagnosis

To obtain a true diagnosis of IBD, patients will have their blood and stool tested, undergo an endoscopic exam of the colon and digestive tract, and may even need a type of CT scan that provides a cross-sectional view of the abdomen and small intestines. For patients who suffer from IBS, the diagnosis process typically follows a similar pattern of dietary and lifestyle observations followed by any necessary testing or exams.

IBD Treatment

One of the challenges with treating inflammatory bowel disease is the fact that no single treatment works for everybody. Helping patients find relief from the chronic gastrointestinal problems requires a high level of individual care from a doctor. Medications can help and dietary changes assist some people to minimize the symptoms of IBD.  In some cases surgical intervention may be necessary.

For people with IBS, surgery isn’t a likely option as is the case with IBD. That’s because an endoscopic exam will reveal no inflammation in the lower digestive tract. Upon examination, the lower digestive tract of a patient with IBS will appear perfectly healthy, despite observed and reported gastrointestinal symptoms.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates.

If you suffer from recurrent gastrointestinal problems, you might wonder if you have irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, or just need to cut back on the amount of griller dogs you eat. But before you self-diagnose, make sure you see your a surgeon at Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates to determine if you really do have inflammatory bowel disorder or irritable bowel syndrome.  Call (310)273-2310 for an appointment and a confidential consultation and examination.