Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) often presents as a group of symptoms very similar to those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but usually with the additional symptom bright red blood in the stool.
Diagnosis of IBD is made by performing a colonoscopy, and often a biopsy. Detection of ulcerations in the colon confirms the diagnosis.
IBD is diagnosed as ulcerative colitis if it is restricted to the colon and Crohn’s disease if it is also found in the small intestine.
The cause or causes of IBD have not been identified. However, evidence points to activation of the immune system via environmental triggers and to a potential genetic link. For example, people with family members who have IBD are more likely to have IBD. Treatment usually involves anti-inflammatory medications to try to control the inflammation.
People with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis, like many people with IBS, often get discouraged by the inability to control their symptoms and the unpredictable nature of the condition. Interestingly, people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can also have IBS or IBS-related problems that are contributing to their symptoms.
At our clinic (the IBS Treatment Center) we have found that patients with IBD often have microbial imbalances or food allergies that are directly related to their poor digestion. Although treating IBS does not cure IBD, in many cases substantial improvement in digestion and a greater likelihood of remission of the IBD can be obtained by testing for and treating the IBS-related conditions. When those conditions are properly diagnosed and treated, these patients often experience significant improvement in their health.
Testing for and treating microbial imbalances includes DNA testing of the stool for diagnosing bacteria, yeast, and parasitic problems. And food allergy testing involves sophisticated blood testing for antibody reactions to foods commonly found in the diet.
Testing for and treating these problems is obviously a good idea for anyone IBD or IBS who wants to improve their overall health and give their body the best chance possible for a complete recovery.
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Dr. Stephen Wangen is the award winning author of two books on solving digestive disorders, and a nationally recognized speaker on IBS. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio. He was recently named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.