Doctor's Notes on IBD vs. IBS
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is chronic inflammation of any part of the digestive tract (from mouth to anus) and has two main types, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is considered a chronic functional disorder of the GI tract because in people with the disease, the GI tract acts abnormally, but there is no structural damage from a specific disease. Signs and symptoms unique to IBD include
- diarrhea that may be bloody,
- rectal bleeding,
- weight loss,
- joint pains,
- skin problems,
- fever, and/or
- severe or chronic abdominal pain.
Signs and symptoms unique to IBS include
- non-bloody diarrhea,
- abdominal discomfort (not severe or chronic),
- changes in bowel frequency and stool appearance,
- pain or discomfort that improves after a bowel movement,
- feeling unable to empty bowels, and
- mucus in stools.
Possible causes for IBD include autoimmune response or immune over-reaction and/or genetics. Possible causes of IBS include brain-gut signal problems, GI motility problems, high GI pain sensitivity, altered levels of neurotransmitters, food sensitivities, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, GI bacterial infection, and/or genetics.
What Are the Treatments for IBD vs. IBS?
- Alosetron: colon relaxer
- Eluxadoline: reduce GI muscle contractions
- Rifaximin: antibiotic to decrease bacterial overgrowth
- Lubiprostone: increase fluid secretions
- Linaclotide: increase fluid secretions
In contrast, IBD focuses on reducing inflammation of bowel tissue with the following drug therapy or surgery:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs like corticosteroids
- Immune suppressors like azathioprine
- Biologics like adalimumab
- Antibiotics like ciprofloxacin
- Supplements and/or nutritional support
Ask your doctor if you have any questions about IBD vs. IBS.
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Bowel regularity means a bowel movement every day.See Answer
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.