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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.
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.
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.
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:
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.