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The similarities and differences between colitis and IBS

0 2 years ago

Colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are separate conditions that both affect the gut. A person may develop both, but they require different treatments as the drugs for colitis will not successfully treat IBS. Some symptoms may appear similar, and both are likely lifelong conditions.


Both colitis and IBS affect the gut and can result in diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Colitis or IBS are both conditions that can affect people of any age, but symptoms may be more severe in younger people.

Prevalence of colitis and IBS

The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders suggests that IBS is the most common digestive tract disorder, with 10–15% of people living with the condition.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that around 3 million adults in the United StatesTrusted Source

had an IBD diagnosis in 2015.

Similarities and differences in symptoms

Colitis and IBS can produce similar symptomsTrusted Source

that may include the following:

IBS symptoms Colitis symptoms
abdominal pain abdominal pain
stomach cramps stomach cramps
bloating watery stools with blood, pus, or mucus present
white mucus in stools rectal bleeding
a feeling of incomplete bowel movements urgent need for bowel movements with no stools produced
IBS may also link to constipation, diarrhea, or both

A person living with IBS does not typically experience rectal bleeding

A person who has a more severe form of colitis may also experience fever, fatigue, vomiting or nausea, or weight loss

Similarities in colitis and IBS

Similarities between colitis and IBS include:

  • the condition can become chronic
  • symptoms may progress and become more severe
  • poor quality of life when symptoms flare
  • feeling that the abdomen is bloated
  • a person may develop psychological disorders

Differences between colitis and IBS

Differences between the two include:

  • Colitis isTrusted Source
  • a whole-body disease, while IBS is a syndrome that mainly affects the gut.
  • Doctors do not yet know the triggers of colitis, although certain foods may be suspect. IBS may includeTrusted Source
  • triggers such as stress or particular food groups.
  • Colitis results in physical damage to the colon, while IBS does not.
  • Colitis increases the risk of colon cancer, while IBS does not.
  • A person may develop IBS symptoms alongside colitis, although this is rare.
  • A person can develop another disorder alongside IBS, which may make the condition more severe. Conditions include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and chronic pelvic pain.
  • With colitis, a person may develop anemia, malabsorption, liver complaint (primary sclerosing cholangitis), inflammation of the eye (uveitis), or inflammation of fat under the skin leading to nodules (erythema nodosum).
  • With IBS, a person may develop digestive conditions, including dyspepsia and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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