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When you’re having severe pain in your stomach accompanied by digestive problems that might be taking you to the bathroom more frequently than usual, it might not seem that important to get hung up on what your condition is named. After all, what difference does it make what you call it? Turns out it makes a big difference in the medical community. Two of the more common stomach issues we see at GI Associates have similar names and symptoms, yet are treated very differently and are very different in their nature. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) present with very similar symptoms, yet the method of treatment and the root cause of the symptoms are very different. 

What Are IBS and IBD?

Simply put, both IBS and IBD are conditions that affect the digestive system, causing pain and discomfort in the abdomen, bloating, frequent need to have bowel movements, diarrhea, and nausea. While IBS is an identifiable condition that is diagnosed by doctors, it is only diagnosed by symptoms. On the other hand, IBD differs in the makeup of the disease.

IBD is a structural disease, which means that it leaves behind damage in the digestive tract and gut. The disease can present in two different forms—as either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine or colon and Crohn’s can affect any part and all layers of the gut. 

How Do I Get A Diagnosis?

If you have persistent symptoms of either IBS or IBD, it’s important to contact GI Associates to get an official diagnosis, as the course of treatment will vary based on your particular case. Prior to visiting the doctor, consider keeping a food and activity journal to determine what might be causing your flare-ups. There is currently no cure for either disease, although symptoms can be managed in many cases. Most IBS patients find relief when they adjust their diets, eliminating high fat foods, insoluble fibers, gluten, caffeine, and gas producing foods. There also new medications on the market designed to treat the associated diarrhea or constipation that troubles IBS patients. If you are diagnosed with IBD, there are some medical options to help reduce swelling and inflammation and may cause remission of the symptoms. IBD is a chronic disease that should be overseen by a gastroenterologist. 

Don’t continue to live your life in pain and discomfort. If you’re struggling with these symptoms, contact GI Associates today to learn how we can help you get your health on track. 

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