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Irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease 

IBS and IBD are two similar yet different gastrointestinal disorders that can cause major problems for sufferers. IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is a condition that affects 15% of the entire population. IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease, is a more serious disorder that includes both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and causes inflammation and ulceration (sores) in the small and large intestines.

About IBS

In the past, IBS was referred to as a spastic colon, and there are many symptoms that can be attributed to the disease. While it may not be lethal in and of itself, IBS may be a sign that there is an underlying health condition. Women most frequently experience IBS, but men can also be affected by this condition.

Symptoms include:

  • Intense gas pain: This pain may be varied in how it presents, but it is normally relieved after a bowel movement. Pain levels differ from patient to patient, so you could experience anything from intense gas pain to ulcer-type pain.
  • Bowel movement disruption: Sufferers of IBS frequently note that they experience periods of diarrhea, followed by periods of constipation. This begins a cycle that is quite disruptive and can be very draining on the individual. Bowel movements may be more frequent than three in one day, or may be as infrequent as three in a week.
  • Change in stool’s appearance: IBS sufferers frequently note that the appearance of their stools changes during a flare-up of the disease. They may notice hard pellet-like bowel movements, or they may be thin and watery.

In addition to these common complaints, there are numerous secondary symptoms of IBS that include heart palpitations, fatigue, an unpleasant taste in the mouth and headache or backache. Both primary and secondary symptoms may flare up during stressful situations or during a woman’s menstrual period.

About IBD

Crohn’s Disease, one of the disorders that make up IBD, is an autoimmune disorder, which means your body’s immune system attacks healthy body tissue. It results in chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, causing the intestinal wall to become thick.

Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, affects the lining of the rectum and can also expand to affect the colon’s lining as well. Its cause is unknown, but may also be related to an immune disorder.

Common symptoms of IBD include:

  • Aching, sore joints
  • Skin and mouth sores
  • Red, inflamed eyes
  • Rectal bleeding, weight loss and fever
  • Abdominal pain, often in the lower-right part of the abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Poor growth in children

If you are receiving treatment for either IBS or IBD and your symptoms are getting worse, or you are developing severe abdominal pain or unexplained weight loss, you should seek medical attention.

If you have IBS or IBD, you should also receive frequent colorectal cancer screenings (colonoscopy). Many of these symptoms are similar to those of colon cancer, a very serious form of cancer that is best treated in its earliest stages. Survival rates for those who receive frequent screenings therefore tend to be much higher.

For more information on these symptoms and other colorectal health issues, contact a physician now

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