Inflammatory bowel disease vs irritable bowel syndrome

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People often confuse inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). You may even see the terms used interchangeably. The symptoms can be the same and sometimes people with IBD are misdiagnosed as having IBS. Although the two may seem very similar, it is important to understand that they are actually two very different conditions with different effects on your body. IBD can be a very damaging condition, causing permanent harm to your body and even death.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In IBS, the colon spasms or it contracts too often. The symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bloated feeling
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

IBS is painful and can be debilitating. During bouts of diarrhea, there is a health danger from dehydration. IBS does not cause damage to your colon or other internal organs, and is not a generally a life-threatening condition. IBS is common in people with autoimmune conditions such as Lupus and fibromyalgia.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

In IBD involves inflammation of the digestive tract. This inflammation can progress to ulcers, fissures, abscesses, and permanent damage. IBD can have any or all of the symptoms of IBS plus:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss

How to Tell the Two Apart

It can be difficult or impossible to tell the two apart by symptoms alone. People with IBD may only experience the symptoms of IBS, especially in the early stages. If you have symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, fever, anemia, or significant weight loss, you should talk to your doctor right away about IBD testing.

IBD causes changes in the tissues in your digestive system, while IBS does not.

Why the Difference is So Important

IBD can cause permanent damage to your digestive tract and be life-threatening. Flare-ups must be prevented or controlled to prevent this damage. If left uncontrolled, you could wind up having parts of your digestive tract removed. The complications of IBD include nutritional deficiencies and extreme weight loss. One potential complication of ulcerative colitis, a type of IBD, is potentially fatal colon rupture.

IBS does not carry these dangers, but it can have a significant impact on your life, preventing you from participating in normal activities or even holding a job.

Talk to Your Doctor

Studies have indicated that people with IBS often develop IBD. However, it is uncertain whether this is caused by a progression from IBS to IBD or if it is really the result of an initial misdiagnosis.

IBD has been associated with Accutane use. If you have taken Accutane and exhibit the symptoms of IBS or have been diagnosed with IBS, please talk to your doctor about IBD testing.

Hagens Berman Can Help You

If you or your loved one has suffered Accutane side effects such as IBD, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Hagens Berman are here to protect your rights in your time of need. We are a large national law firm with the skills and resources to put you on equal footing with the high powered legal teams representing the pharmaceutical companies.

Please contact our Accutane lawyers today to schedule your free initial consultation. Hagens Berman serves clients nationwide.


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