IBS Vs IBD: Types, Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Know about the differences between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease in detail.

3 min read

People suffering from gastrointestinal problems get to hear a lot about terms like IBS and IBD which often confuses them and is used interchangeably. These two conditions are completely different along with their causes and symptoms.

IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease is an umbrella term used for all the conditions which causes inflammation in the intestine whereas IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome does not cause inflammation of any kind.

Since the terms are so similar and sound familiar, people often use them interchangeably. In this article, we shall be pointing out the differences between these two so that you have a clarity about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of both IBS and IBD.



The first thing to know is that both IBS and IBD are chronic conditions and there might be times when people might be experiencing symptoms of both the conditions as they can be attacked by both at the same time.

According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, IBS is quite common and around 10-15% of the people suffer from it worldwide.

  • It is a chronic condition affecting the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, characterised by pain in the abdomen and changes in bowel movements which can be a result of food intolerances or previous bacterial infections. There's no inflammation of any kind in this condition and generally shows no symptoms.

According to the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.3% show the symptoms of IBD, and the numbers have gone up by 50%.

There are two conditions under IBD (Mayo Clinic)

  • Ulcerative Colitis: It is the most common condition characterised by recurring inflammation in the mucosal layer of the colon including the rectum as well.

  • Crohn's Disease: It can affect any part, from the mouth to the anus within the gastrointestinal tract, and is characterised by frequent bowel movements often felt incomplete.

IBS Vs IBD: Symptoms

The few symptoms of IBS and IBD can be similar and overlapping as well.

According to the doctors of Cleveland Clinic, these are the symptoms of IBS:

  • Pain and cramps in the abdomen

  • Bloating

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Mucus in the poop

  • Excess gas

  • Changes in the consistency of stool

  • Urgent and frequent bowel movements

  • IBS patients can experience pain in their upper, middle or lower abdomen in the form of cramps, aches, throbbing pain or stabbing.

According to Healthline, the symptoms of IBD is the combination of the following:

  • Mucus or blood in stool

  • eye inflammation

  • Upset stomach

  • Fatigue

  • Intestinal scarring

  • Weight loss

  • loss of appetite

  • Rectal Bleeding

  • Malnutrition

  • Joint pain

  • Gastrointestinal pain with pain in joints, inflamed eyes, irritated skin, pain around the rectum, and oral sores.

IBS Vs IBD: Causes

The exact reason for both IBS and IBD is still unknown but certain factors increase the risk of these conditions and have been mentioned below.

According to the doctors of Cleveland Clinic, the risk factors for IBS include:

  • Dysmotility, i.e., problems with the contraction of the gastrointestinal muscles.

  • Visceral hypersensitivity is characterized by extra sensitive GI nerves and muscles.

  • Food intolerance or allergies

  • Dysfunctionality in the brain-gut system

According to the doctors of Cleveland Clinic, the causes and risk factors of IBD include:

  • Family history or genetics

  • Immune system response wherein food is mistaken for foreign bodies

  • Other factors like depression, smoking, and stress

IBS Vs IBD: Diagnosis

According to Healthline, the diagnosis of IBS is made by ruling out or excluding the other diseases and conditions, The doctor may discuss your medical history, family's medical history, and symptoms and take a physical examination. The diagnosis is based on the frequency, appearance, and symptoms of defecation.


According to MedicalNewsToday, the diagnosis of IBD is made on the basis of medical tests like blood and stool tests, and imaging of the upper and lower GI tract. It may also involve colonoscopy and esophagogastroscopy to examine the extent of the inflammation and other tests needed might be X-rays, MRI, biopsy, CT scan, etc.

IBS Vs IBD: Treatment

According to MedicalNewsToday, the treatment of IBS requires a few lifestyle and dietary changes like eating more fiber, avoiding gluten, exercising regularly, sleeping adequately, and eating an IBS-friendly diet.

The medications for IBS require anti-diarrheal medicines, laxatives or fiber supplements for constipation, antidepressants, and medicines for cramping and abdominal pain.

The treatment requires medicines that prevent or reduce inflammation and suppress the activity of immune system.

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