Achy Stomach and Digestive Issues – When Is It a Problem?

Thursday, July 12, 2012 8:55 AM

Digestive-ProblemsDigestive problems—such as cramps, bloating, diarrhea and gas—are common ailments to many Americans. These symptoms can be influenced by the food we eat, the lifestyle we live and our family history of gastrointestinal issues.

Inflammatory bowel disease (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are both related to symptoms of the bowel.  That is why they are commonly confused with one another.

Eugene Yen, MD, Gastroenterologist at NorthShore and director of the Crohn’s and colitis program, offers his advice on the differences associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and IBS:

  • The main difference between the two is that IBS does not involve inflammation of the bowel, and thus is treated differently.
         o    Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are treated with medications and
               sometimes surgery.
         o    IBS can often be managed with diet and lifestyle changes, and
               sometimes with different medications.
  • Symptoms of both of these conditions can be similar. In addition, many patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease have IBS symptoms. In other words, patients who have their IBD under good control can sometimes get abdominal pain and diarrhea in the absence of intestinal inflammation.
  • It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between IBS and IBD, so if you have been experiencing intestinal issues, we recommend seeking the consultation of your physician.

Have you ever experienced any of the symptoms of IBS? What other information do you want to know about the topic?

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