Irritable Bowel Syndrome vs Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that affects the large intestine. IBS is fairly common, but it is a chronic condition that will need to be managed long term.

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (recurrent or continuous for at least 3 months)

  • Cramping
  • Abdominal Pain or discomfort – often relieved after passage of stool
  • Bloating or abdominal distention
  • Gas
  • Diarrhoea  - may be loose or watery
  • Constipation – stool may be lumpy to hard
  • Variable bowel pattern and stool consistency

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis

What is IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an inflammatory condition group of chronic intestinal disorders of the colon and small intestine. The most common forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative Colitis.

IBD affects the small and large intestine, it can also affect the mouth, esophagus, stomach and anus.

Ulcerative Colitis affects the large intestine; and Crohn’s Disease can occur in any area of the GI tract- from mouth to anus.

7 tips for managing IBD

  • Regular visits to your doctor or medical professional
  • Know what foods or spices in your diet may aggravate symptoms
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Join a support group – it’s good to be with others going through the same process
  • Take medications as prescribed and report any side effects
  • Pack extra medications when travelling
  • Report any changes to your doctor and understand your triggers. 

Symptoms of Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn’s Disease

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea – depends on location
  • Fever
  • Bleeding - if in the colon
  • Weight loss

Ulcerative Colitis

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal cramping or pain prior to bowel movements
  • Diarrhoea – chronic or intermittent
  • Fever – night sweats
  • Weight loss

What's the difference between IBS and IBD?

While symptoms of IBS and IBD are similar and uncomfortable, IBS - unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease- does not cause changes in your bowel tissue.   IBS is considered a defecation disorder.


Other websites for information and resources for information about Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis

Crohn’s & Colitis UK -


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