IBS or Ulcerative Colitis: How to Tell One from the Other

If you're experiencing digestive issues, you may be wondering if you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or ulcerative colitis. These two conditions share some similarities in symptoms, which can cause confusion. It's not uncommon for IBS to be mistaken for ulcerative colitis and vice versa. According to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, approximately 10-15% of people who are initially diagnosed with IBS will later be diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. However, there are also key differences between the two that can help you tell them apart. Below we'll explore IBS and ulcerative colitis and provide guidance for those experiencing symptoms.

Starting Point of Spotting the Differences

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the colon, while IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. There is still a discord on whether IBS is a medical diagnosis at all.

Diagnostic Methods

Diagnosing IBS usually involves ruling out other conditions through a physical exam, medical history, and stool tests. Asking the patient about diet changes and recent stresses also makes avbig diagnostic sense. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, is typically diagnosed through a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, which allows the doctor to examine the colon and rectum for inflammation and ulceration.

Can I have IBS and ulcerative colitis together?

It's possible to have both conditions, but it's rare.

Which is worse: IBS or ulcerative colitis?

It's difficult to compare the two conditions, as they affect the body in different ways. However, ulcerative colitis can cause more severe symptoms, such as rectal bleeding and more severe pains than IBS, and can even result in surgical removal of the affected portion of the colon. Some doctors say to their patients that they wouldn't be able to be come to their office on their feet so easily if it were UC. But it's also a treatable condition with a very precise set of methods. IBS is chronic and difficult to manage, but it doesn't typically cause long-term damage to the colon or need a surgical treatment.

Can IBS turn into ulcerative colitis?

No, IBS cannot turn into ulcerative colitis. However, it's possible for someone with IBS to later develop ulcerative colitis or another inflammatory bowel disease.

How to Tell Ulcerative Col from IBS

If you are experiencing digestive issues and wonder if you might have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Ulcerative Colitis (UC), there are some key differences to look out for. While only a medical professional can diagnose you with either condition, here are some signs and symptoms that can help you differentiate between the two:

IBS is a common condition that affects the large intestine. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but some common signs of IBS include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea, sometimes colored green, or constipation (or both)
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Feeling like you haven't finished a bowel movement

IBS is often linked to stress or anxiety, and symptoms can come and go over time. If you notice that your symptoms tend to occur after meals or during times of stress, it may be a sign of IBS. Quite often, IBS is managed or treated by lifestyle changes and improvement of mental state, like stress elimination.

Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the colon and rectum. Symptoms of UC can include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Diarrhea (often with blood or pus in the stool)
  • Urgency to have a bowel movement
  • Inability to have a bowel movement despite urgency
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Unlike IBS, UC is a condition that requires medical treatment. Also, fatigue is less common for IBS. If you are experiencing symptoms of UC, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

We hope this article has helped you understand the differences between IBS and ulcerative colitis. Howver, if you're experiencing symptoms, don't hesitate to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

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