Wondering How IBD is Different from IBS?


People often get confused between two gastrointestinal disease conditions namely inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a functional disease by nature while IBD is a structural disease. Though both these chronic diseases cause stomach pain, bloating, cramps and diarrhea in the patients, the causes and treatment options are completely different.

How IBD is Different from IBS


Here are a few causes of IBS:

  1. IBS is a gastrointestinal tract disorder. This affects the lower GI tract, namely the small intestine, large intestine, and the colon. For many patients, IBS has originated with food poisoning. 
  2. This disease condition needs long-term management and most patients can control the symptoms by diet restrictions. 
  3. Frequent intestinal contractions, nerve damage in digestive system leading, less immunity of the intestines, infection of the gut, less percentage of microflora in the intestines, etc. are the primary causes of IBS.

The causes of IBD are:

  1. IBD is a chronic disease, which is the umbrella term used to describe any inflammation in any part of the GI tract. 
  2. IBD is of two types; ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis refers to the severe inflammation of the large intestine and rectum. While Crohn’s disease refers to the inflammation of the GI tract lining that spreads to the adjoining tissues as well.
  3. Improper diet and immune system malfunction are narrowed down as the reasons for IBD. Crohn’s disease can even happen due to heavy smoking habit. 


IBS comes with a multitude of symptoms like:

  1. Cramps
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Frequent bowel movement
  4. Urge to pass stools
  5. Gas
  6. Belly pain
  7. mucus in stools
  8. blood in stools etc.

Doctors identify IBS if the patient has complained of stomach pain at least 1 day a week over an observation period of 3 weeks. 

IBD can be diagnosed with symptoms like:

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Fever
  3. Blood in stools
  4. Cramps
  5. Reduced appetite
  6. Weight loss etc. 

IBD involves structural damage of the GI tract and hence, can be identified using x-ray, CT scans, endoscopy, surgery or even a biopsy.  


  1. IBS can be treated completely by changing the dietary pattern. One should include more fiber, drink plenty of water, avoid lactose products, and cut down on food items that can cause gas in the daily diet. 
  2. IBD is a result of inflammation and hence needs to be treated with drugs that cure the inflammation. If the inflammation is severe, the doctor may suggest surgery to remove the affected part of the colon completely. 


Both IBS and IBD can be prevented if one follows a healthy eating habit with less spices and drinks plenty of water. Hygiene prevents infection to a great extent. Many times, reduction in stress levels, meditation, etc. help to cure these gastrointestinal diseases.

IBD and IBS are two different disease conditions. While untreated IBD can end up in severe complications like colorectal cancer, blood clots, etc., IBS does not have such life-threatening impacts. With timely screening and doctor’s intervention, both IBD and IBS can be brought under control.


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