Is It Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Are you experiencing symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, or could it be something else? The terms inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are often used interchangeably; however, they are two separate and distinct conditions. And it is possible to have both.
Signs and Symptoms of IBD
IBD – Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a category used to describe certain autoimmune conditions pertaining to chronic inflammation within the digestive tract. Conditions associated with IBD can greatly impact the quality of life and at times be frustrating, embarrassing, painful, and sometimes even life-threatening.
There are two main types of inflammatory bowel disease: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Crohn’s disease – Crohn’s disease involves inflammation of your digestive tract, with the most commonly affected areas being the last part of the small intestine (ileum) and the colon. You can have periods of remission as well as sudden flare-ups that can range from mild to intense.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Blood in your stool
- Mouth sores
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Pain or drainage near or around the anus due to inflammation from a tunnel into the skin (fistula)
- Inflammation of skin, eyes and joints
- Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
- Delayed growth or sexual development, in children
Complications Associated with Crohn’s Disease
- Bowel obstruction
- Colon cancer
- Enteropathic arthritis
Ulcerative colitis – Similar to Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis can have long periods of remission followed by flare ups and increased inflammation. Ulcers can be found predominantly in the innermost lining of the colon and rectum. Depending on the location and type of ulcerative colitis, your IBD symptoms may vary.
Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis May Include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Diarrhea with blood
- Abdominal cramping and discomfort
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement (but may not be able to go)
- Nausea or loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Joint pain and soreness
- Eye irritation
- Rashes or painful skin ulcers
- Skin lumps
Ulcerative colitis can pose life threatening risks. Possible complications of ulcerative colitis include:
- Inflammation of your skin, joints and eyes
- Severe bleeding
- Severe dehydration
- Liver disease
- Colon cancer
- Toxic megacolon
- Perforated colon
- Blood clots
Recent Studies Offer Hope in Managing IBD Symptoms.
A meta-analysis was performed where they reviewed 14 eligible studies, comprising of 1,891 participants (938 IBD cases and 953 controls). The meta-analysis concluded that “IBD is significantly associated with having higher odds of vitamin D deficiency.” 1
In fact, patients with IBD had 64% higher odds of vitamin D deficiency when compared to their counterparts. Patients with ulcerative colitis had more than double the odds of vitamin D deficiency when compared with the control group.
Another meta-analysis looked into the safety and therapeutic use of vitamin D as a treatment for IBD. It reports, “Recent studies have found that vitamin D can induce and maintain IBD remission through antibiosis, anti-inflammatory, and repair of intestinal mucosal barriers, thus improving the patient’s disease activity and quality-of-life.” The meta-analysis revealed that vitamin D reduced the relapse rate and recommended it be considered in the treatment of IBD, at least as an adjunctive treatment.
IBD as an Autoimmune Condition
Unlike IBS, IBD is an autoimmune condition. This means that an environmental trigger turned on the expression of a pre-existing gene. That trigger may have been a bacterial infection or something else, but it was part of the story that led to where you are now.
You now have a few tasks to deal with.
1. Identify and eliminate all known triggers. Clean up the environment you live in to support your health — reduce toxins like phthalates, avoid foods with pesticides, and check the air quality within your home.
2. Schedule a consultation with a functional medicine doctor who can best help with autoimmune conditions. They can order a number of tests to drill down deep to what your body looks like right now and how to improve your future health.
3. Pick up a copy of The Autoimmune Fix to educate yourself on how to prevent, reverse and arrest autoimmune conditions and get a proven protocol to better guide you in your journey to wellness.