Many people believe that inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is the same exact thing as irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. However, this is not true at all.
The truth is that inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis is much different than irritable bowel syndrome. IBS does not result in inflammation, ulcers, or other bowel damage.
IBS is actually a much less serious issue, and is also known as functional bowel syndrome. This basically means that the digestive system appears to be perfectly normal, but it’s not functioning as it is supposed to.
An Explanation of IBS
As already mentioned, irritable bowel syndrome is also referred to as functional bowel syndrome, which means that though it looks like there’s nothing wrong, there is something going wrong in the functioning of the bowels.
It is estimated that somewhere between 7-10 out of 100 people across the world suffer from IBS. However, most of these people do not see a physician regarding their symptoms.
The symptoms of IBS vary from person to person and can last for a long time. IBS does not cause you to develop cancer or shorten your life in any way.
Individuals suffering from IBS very rarely have constant, ongoing symptoms. In most cases, an individual will have symptoms off and on for years- and may even go months, or even years, without ever having symptoms- but the symptoms will typically come back at some point.
Symptoms of IBS
Following are some of the common symptoms associated with IBS:
- Changes in patterns of bowel movements
- Excess gas/bloating
- Lower belly pain
- Mucus in stools
If you have had these symptoms for six months or more and experience pain in your belly for at least three days each month, you may have IBS- if at least two of the following statements are true:
- A bowel movement relieves pain
- Changes in bowel movement frequency is associated with the pain
- Change in the appearance/consistency of bowel movement associated with the pain
Since there are no structural issues present in the intestines, some people think that this disorder is “all in their head.” However, this isn’t true- these symptoms are all very real. There are many different causes that can be addressed in order to relieve these symptoms.
In some cases, individuals with IBS will experience lower belly pain in conjunction with constipation that is typically followed by a bout of diarrhea. Others may have some pain and a mild case of constipation, but no diarrhea.
Some indivuduals have symptoms that don’t have an effect on the intestines, such as the following:
- Unpleasant taste in mouth
- Sexual problems (reduction in desire, or pain during sex)
- Urinary symptoms
- Heart palpitations
The symptoms of IBS typically occur during stressful times, after a meal, or for women, during menstruation.
– As much as possible, avoid stress, as many physicians have stated that emotional conflict is one of the major triggers for IBS
– Take part in moderate- not strenuous- exercise on a regular basis. If your body is fit, you’re more likely to have a healthy colon.
– Pay attention to your medications- things such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and even vitamin C can cause irritation in the mucus of your intestinal tract.
– Reduce consumption of dairy products, as they can aggravate already irritable bowels. Keep in mind that dairy products contain calcium, which is valuable for your body, so you should not eliminate them from your diet. If you are lactose intolerant, speak with your physician about taking medications to treat this.
– Increase consumption of dietary fiber such as whole grain cereals and breads, veggies, and fruits. Fiber helps you to distend your colon, which helps to reduce spasms. Make sure that you’re eating enough fiber to make your bowel movements soft and easy to pass without straining.
– Avoid laxatives and OTC fiber supplements, as they result in bloating and irritability.
– Avoid eating large meals, as they cause bowels to become hyperactive and overdistended.
– If you have lots of gas, drink less apple and grape juices and avoid gas forming foods.
– Limit consumption of foods that are high in fat and avoid caffeine, sorbitol, chocolate, and alcohol.
Explanation of IBD
Inflammatory bowel disease, also known as IBD, includes disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The term describes a group of disorders that involve inflammation of the intestinal tissues.
Medical professionals say that the cause is most likely an immune reaction that the body has against its own tissues. So, it is considered an autoimmune disorder.
As mentioned, two of the major forms of inflammatory bowel disease are Crohn’s disease, or CD, and ulcerative colitis, or UC.
Crohn’s disease can involve any area of the gastrointestinal tract- from the mouth to the anus- though it most commonly affects the colon, small intestine, or both. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, is limited to the large intestine or the colon.
If you’re suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, you know that it gets worse and then it will get better for a while. When you’re experiencing severe inflammation, the disease is active- and the individual will have a flare-up of their symptoms.
When there is little to no inflammation, the individual typically doesn’t have active symptoms, and the disease is considered to be in remission.
Symptoms of IBD
Just as with any other chronic disease or illness, an individual suffering from IBD will typically have periods of flare-ups with severe symptoms. This will be followed by a period of time where the symptoms seem to decrease, and even disappear altogether and they seem to be in overall good health.
Basically, the symptoms will range from mild to severe, and will typically depend heavily on the part of the intestinal tract that is involved. Following are the common symptoms of IBD:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Bloody diarrhea
- Urgency to have a bowel movements
- Loss of appetite/weight loss
- Anemia, or iron deficiency, as a result of blood loss
– Try using OTC anti-diarrheal medications to help control mild symptoms of IBD.
– Ask your physician about aminosalicylates, which can help to treat intestinal inflammation in individuals with IBD.
– Consider corticosteroids to treat inflammation that doesn’t respond to treatment with aminosalicylates. Pills, as well as IV injections, are usually used to treat the bowels above the rectum and foams or enemas can be used to treat the rectum. The most common corticosteroid used to treat IBD is prednisone.
– When all else fails, consider using immunosuppressive medications such as cyclosporine to treat your IBD.