Are my symptoms due to IBS or IBD?

There are symptoms shared by both conditions and not everyone experiences all of them. Depending on your medical history, symptoms and how severe they are, your doctor may recommend a number of tests to help determine whether you have IBS or IBD.

What does this symptom mean? Visit The Gut Foundation’s website to see possible causes and what to do if you experience them. Please note, this resource is for information only. It is not a diagnostic tool and should not take the place of speaking with your healthcare professional.

The peak patient body representing people with IBD, Crohn’s & Colitis Australia, has put together tools for patients and their healthcare professionals to differentiate between IBS and IBD.

IBD

Differences between IBS and IBD effects on the colon.

 

IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is thought to be due to gut hypersensitivity. You may experience multiple symptoms related to the bowel (abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating), but blood tests are normal and nothing abnormal can be seen with endoscopy/colonoscopy or X-rays. Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort that is often relieved by passing wind or stool
  • Stomach bloating
  • Chronic diarrhoea, constipation, or alternating between the two
  • Whitish mucous in the stool
  • Feeling you have not finished a bowel movement
  • Nausea

For tools to differentiate between IBS and IBD, visit Crohn’s & Colitis Australia. Please note, this resource is for information only. It is not a diagnostic tool and should not take the place of speaking with your healthcare professional.

For general information on IBS, see the information from the Gut Foundation Australia (click on the irritable bowel link) or from the Gastroenterological Society of Australia.

 

 

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

IBD describes two conditions; Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both produce visible damage to the bowel. Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Frequent diarrhoea (may have blood and/or mucous)
  • Urgency to have a bowel movement
  • Swelling around the anus, with or without discharge
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss (are you a healthy weight for your height? Visit Get Healthy NSW to find out)
  • Some people also experience fever, mouth ulcers or nausea and vomiting

Indeterminate colitis is a term used when it is not clear if inflammation is due to Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. It occurs in approximately 15% of all cases.

Get an overview of IBD from Gastroenterological Society of Australia or from the peak patient body representing people with IBD, Crohn’s & Colitis Australia.

Read specific information about ulcerative colitisfrom the peak patient body representing people with IBD, Crohn’s & Colitis Australia.

Source information and links to articles on IBD from Healthdirect Australia, a government funded health information website with information and links to articles on IBD.