If you have both Crohn’s and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you might find it hard to figure which condition is causing your symptoms. Understanding the similarities and differences can help you to figure out how to better manage and treat symptoms.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a harsh and debilitating chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation, ulcers, and digestive tract bleeding. There are at least 780,000 Americans in the United States with Crohn’s according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).
There is no known cause for Crohn’s but it appears to run in families. Some research, including one study from the California Institute of Technology, indicates that Crohn’s is linked to an overactive response to intestinal bacteria, which may eventually lead to damage of the intestines.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease include:
- Abnormal pain and cramping
- Rectal bleeding and anemia
- Weight loss and appetite reduction
- Fatigue and low energy
Treatments include diet changes and biologic treatments. Surgery is also an option for treating Crohn’s disease.
What is IBS?
IBS is a condition that produces symptoms similar to Crohn’s, but they are not the same condition.
According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), IBS affects between 25 to 45 million Americans. It affects mostly women, but it can affect people of all ages, including children.
Researchers are uncertain what causes IBS but environmental factors (i.e. food, genetics, gastrointestinal infects), gut physiology (i.e. abnormal gut response), and psychological factors (i.e. stress, anxiety) might be to blame according to one report published in The American Journal of Medicine.
Symptoms of IBS include:
- Abdominal fullness, gas, bloating, and pain
A diagnosis of IBS is generally made based on symptoms.
You can control symptoms by managing your diet, lifestyle, or stress. Other treatment options include over the counter (OTC) medication and therapy.
Crohn’s, IBS – Or Both?
It is not always easy to tell the difference when it comes to symptoms of Crohn’s and IBS. This is not just a problem for patients – doctors can also struggle to distinguish between the two, resulting in misdiagnosis or incorrect treatments.