Wondering if you might have IBS or IBD? Ask these 5 questions.

Wondering if you might have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)? These two GI conditions sound similar — and may even present with some similar symptoms — but are actually quite different. 

If you’re just not feeling well, it might be tempting to think, “Why does knowing which one I have matter?” There are two main reasons:

  • You’ll be able to give your GI provider better information that will help them properly diagnose you
  • Your GI provider will be able to choose from treatment options and find the best one for you

If you think you may have IBS or IBD, ask yourself the five questions below. Keep track of your answers and share them with a provider experienced in GI care:

1. Do your symptoms change and do they seem to be triggered by stress or certain foods?

These symptoms are typical of IBS. However, if your symptoms are more consistent and not as easily managed, you may be dealing with IBD.

2. Are you feeling discomfort in your abdomen as well as experiencing changes in your bathroom habits, like diarrhea or constipation, alongside bloating and gas?

If so, you might be dealing with IBS. On the other hand, if your pain is ongoing and accompanied by bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and extreme tiredness, it could be a sign that you have IBD.

3. When you think about where your symptoms are located, do they happen in various places throughout your abdomen?

This type of general discomfort is often associated with IBS. But, if your symptoms are more focused on specific areas of your digestive tract, especially in your colon or rectum, it could suggest IBD.

4. Do you notice your symptoms getting worse over a period of weeks?

The consistency or progressively worsening symptoms  with no “normal days” in between is common in IBD but less likely if you have IBS.

5. Are you experiencing symptoms outside of your GI tract—such as joint swelling and pain, skin lesions, or eye issues?

While these symptoms can happen with both IBS and IBD, they are more often linked with IBD.

IBS and IBD symptoms can overlap and vary from person to person, which can make it difficult to know which condition you might have. Adding to the confusion? Some people may live with both conditions, making it even trickier to diagnose and treat. 

That’s why it’s important to choose a GI provider that has expertise in irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. They can make an accurate diagnosis and get you started quickly on a treatment plan that fits your symptoms and lifestyle. 

Oshi Health GI providers, dietitians, and behavioral health providers support people living with IBS and IBD every day. They understand the unique challenges of living with these GI conditions, as well as the full range of treatment options available. Get started today.

Find lasting relief from digestive issues

Get Started