What are IBS and IBD? And what’s the difference?
At first glance, it may be easy to confuse the two. But they are quite different.
So, let’s break it down.
What is IBS?
IBS, aka Irritable Bowal Syndrome, is the most common functional gut disorder. A functional disorder is a disorder where there’s an absence of abnormalities in common diagnostic testing that could explain the symptoms. Prevelance is estimated to be about 10-15% of the world population.
IBS is a chronic condition affecting the large and small intestine. Signs and symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, gas, mucous, urgency, diarrhea and/or constipation. The symptoms are a result of abnormal intestinal motility. Which means…if it feels like moving fast the result is diarrhea and if it feels like moving slow, you guessed it – the result is constipation.
Most people experience times when symptoms are worse and times when they improve. Symptoms can be triggered by food, stress and hormones. And while the cause of IBS is unknown, certain factors appear to play a role such as infection, inflammation in the intestine, and changes to the gut flora.
The risk of getting IBS increases if you’re a female under 50, although estrogen therapy before or after menoapuase also increases your risk. Genes may also play a role – so if someone if your family has IBS, you may be in line to develop it too.
IBS doesn’t increase your risk for colorectal cancer but it can seriously affect your day to day life. Research indicates those suffering from moderate to severe symptoms of IBS miss work three times more than those who don’t have gut problems. It can also lead to anxiety and depression which can just make your symptoms worse!
So how is IBS treated?
There are medications available but they often only target one of the symptoms. So, if you have more than one symptom you’re out of luck! Congitive behavorial therapy may help if symptoms are exacerbated by stress,
Ultimately, making dietary modifications by following a low FODMAP diet has shown to provide significant relief in 75% of people! 75% – that’s a pretty great stastic don’t you think?!
What is IBD?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term used for two chronic conditions, Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease (CD). UC causes inflammation and sores in the colon (large intestine) and rectum. CD also causes inflammation but it can occur anywhere in the GI tract.
Common symptoms of IBD include abdominal pain, persistant diarrhea, bloody bowel movements, weight loss and fatigue. The cause of IBD is unknown but it’s a result of the immune system mistakenly attacking your body.
IBD is NOT IBS.
Although some symptoms may be similar to IBS, IBD is very different. IBD causes damage to the gut lining. IBS does not. IBD can cause joint, eye and skin problems. IBS does not. IBD increases your risk for colon cancer, malnutriton, osteoporosis, and anemia. IBS does not.
The cause of IBD is unknown. But it’s believed certain factors such as genetics, environment, imbalance of gut bacteria and malfunctioning immune system are risk factors.
Ongoing treatment of IBD is required and there are many medications to help manage symptoms. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove damaged parts of the gut. And while IBD is not caused food, symptoms may be diet-controlled as certain foods and beverages may aggravate symptoms.
How do you figure out what foods and drinks may be making your symptoms worse? Well, it’s really trial and error. Some suggestions include eliminating dairy, avoiding “gassy” foods, eating smaller meals and watching fiber intake. The low-fodmap diet may also help identify certain foods that make symptoms worse. But more specifically, food sensitivity testing (MRT) can help identify your best tolerated foods.
So there you have it. IBS and IBD, two very similar but very different GI conditions. What questions do you have?
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