IBD stands for Inflammatory Bowel disorder, whilst IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Whilst these may sound similar, they are very different conditions and the distinction between the two needs to be clear in mind when reading further about a diagnosis.
IBD, as discussed in detail earlier, is an inflammation of the bowel which can cause either Crohn’s or Ulcerative colitis. This inflammation usually happens in the bowel wall and causes sores to form which become inflamed. This condition may lead to an individual requiring surgery or treatment in a hospital as it causes permanent damage to the bowel. What is quite ideal for this condition from a medical point of view, is that tests can be of great use when diagnosing this condition. Unfortunately, this condition may lead to colon cancer and is usually treated with medical treatment and diet change, or surgery as a last resort when required.
IBS on the other hand, is thought to be a syndrome, which in itself this word means that this conditions has several symptoms (1). This is a non-inflammatory condition, unlike IBD, and very rarely does it involve an individual needing intensive hospital care as there is no permanent damage being done. Unfortunately, the diagnosis is difficult to make in this case as the disease cannot be seen on testing or examination at the doctor’s office. Thankfully, this condition does not show any relevance to colon cancer and is usually treated with a change in diet.
Nevertheless, it is easy to mix up both as they do have several symptoms in common: diarrhoea, pain, cramping, constipation and changes in bowel movements. Therefore it is exceptionally important to visit your doctor and make sure you get the right diagnosis and the right advice for your own health issues.
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Catriona Cutajar is a nurse and also a Fourth year Medical student. She forms part of Willingness Team.