Many people are being diagnosed with disorders that involve the intestines. IBS diagnoses are increasing every year as doctors and those in medical research learn more and more. So what is the difference between them?
The first difference is in the name. IBS is irritable bowel syndrome while Crohn’s is a disorder, and is an IBD, inflammatory bowel disorder. This may seem like a silly distinction, but it actually alters the way you treat the condition in a significant way.
A syndrome is a term used for a group of symptoms. Therefore, IBS is a group of symptoms in the gastrointestinal tract. IBS does not cause inflammation and when inspected, the colon in an IBS sufferer shows no abnormalities or sign of disease. If there are signs of disease or abnormalities, the patient does not have IBS. Medical professionals have not found a cause for IBS.
An IBD, such as Crohn’s, results in permanent harm to the intestines, intestinal bleeding, or harmful complications. There are physical indications that can be seen by a doctor to indicate that a patient has an IBD.
There are indications that people with IBS do tend to suffer from other functional disorders such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pelvic pain, and more. Despite these conditions, people with IBS are not any more likely to develop an IBD or other gastrointestinal diseases. IBS seldom requires hospitalization and treatment rarely involves surgery or powerful medications.
However, IBS patients can have their quality of life severely affected. Symptoms range from mildly annoying to completely disabling. Many suffer from self-image issues, are unable to work or travel, or give up on having a social life.
Patients with an IBD, such as Crohn’s, mostly rely on medications, along with a stringent diet, to control their symptoms. IBDs can progress to a point that surgery is needed, and in rare cases, can cause death. Symptoms are similar to IBS patients except that patients with an IBD can also have bleeding, weight loss, and fevers.
Crohn’s Disease can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus. It is most often found in the small intestine and colon. The body’s immune system mistakes food as foreign substances and attacks them through the white blood cells in the lining of the bowels. This causes chronic inflammation. Patients usually have ulcers, scarring and swelling. These things can cause blockages in the intestines. Medication is the most common way to treat this disease but research has shown that about 2/3 of patients will need surgery. There is no cure for Crohn’s Disease, however, it is possible for Crohn’s Disease to go in remission.
There are a lot more intricate details of these conditions that will be explored in follow up articles. There are also many treatments for these conditions, both medical and homeopathic, that will be explored in upcoming articles. Only a doctor can tell if you have IBS or an IBD. Make sure to see your doctor if you are having abdominal pains, discomfort after eating, trouble going to the bathroom, consistent diarrhea, being bloated much of the time especially after eating, bleeding or severe weight loss.