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Regular Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 22
   Posted 9/23/2007 11:51 AM (GMT -7)   
hello, I have crohns disease and i have a friend with IBS and shes asked me many times what is the difference between having Crohn's disease to having IBS but i find it hard to explain the difference, can anyone help ??

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 1010
   Posted 9/23/2007 12:45 PM (GMT -7)   
IBS is a disease of exclusion. If examinations do not reveal any pathology ie: no strictures, no inflammation, no ulceration, no tumours, no cancerous cells, no diverticulum, etc then it is said to be a functional disease and the diagnosis is IBS.

With IBD however, there is pathogenesis. It is a diagnosis of inclusion. Disease activity is evident in scar tissues, inflammation, ulcerations. There are often abnormal blood values, there is often fever.

IBS is probably a disease of the body's neuro-electrical system. The body has all the equipment, but it isn't working in its proper rythum, sort of like an engine with a faulty timing belt. It is often associated with physical and emotional stresses. Lifestyle is much more often a factor in IBS and indeed changes in lifestyle and diet, can often control symptoms of IBS.

30+ years living with Crohn's.

Mormor Vicky
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 684
   Posted 9/23/2007 5:07 PM (GMT -7)   
I agree with Belleenstein and you also can have both. I have both. In fact because I have IBS I didn't realize that I also had Crohn's until I had to have a resection because of a fistula to my bladder. IBS doesn't effect the lining of the intestines where IBD does. IBS is considered a malfunction of the colon and not a disease. I hope that helps.
Vicky / 47 years old
DX'd with Crohn's during a resection August 2006
DX'd with Steriod induced Diabetes November 2006
Considered in Clinical remission but have minor signs of disease activity
Daughter (26) also has Crohn's since she was 12.
Currently on 4000mg of Pentasa only for Crohn's
No longer able to take 6-MP because of Bone-Marrow Suppression
Cymbalta, Metformin, Lipitor

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 2739
   Posted 9/23/2007 5:59 PM (GMT -7)   
I've always been told that it's IBS until they can prove otherwise by finding disease (inflammation, ulcers ect..).

Which is why I have such a hard time believing we can have both. How can we have IBS when they HAVE found disease? For me they would have to be 100% sure that there was no inflammation going on ANYWHERE in my small and large intestine. Which is no easy task, considering how long it takes for them to diagnosis IBD in a lot of people to begin with. It can be easily missed, even with the most accurate tests.

That's just my opinion of course. I went for almost a decade being told I just had IBS, meanwhile not being treated properly for the Crohn's I actually did have. Which led me to become very ill. At this point if I had a doctor tell me my symptoms were IBS, I'd find a new doctor. Again, JMHO.
Diagnosed with mild Crohn's Disease 2/06 after sever GI bleed. Has been suffering since 1998. History of rectal fistula and gallbladder removal. Currently taking Asacol and Questran.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 1010
   Posted 9/23/2007 8:09 PM (GMT -7)   
I tend to agree with Jen. I spent 10 years between resections being assured that "there's no sign of crohn's activity". The symptoms I described were passed off as IBS, so I stopped asking and just accepted increasingly disabling symptoms as my new normal. Then I began having increasingly more violent obstructions and they blamed them on surgical adhesions. They opted for a laporotomy and adhesion release and assured me my bowel looked good. (I had another obstruction less than two months after that surgery. Then surprise, surprise after being hospitalized four times for further obstructions and finally having a third operation, they excised a segment of bowel that was found to be completely occluded due to crohn's strictures and crohn's inflammation and ulceration.

These strictures don't occur overnight, but are the result of years of disease activity. Just because they can't find the site of inflammation, just because the blood work doesn't show increased inflammatory activity doesn't mean it isn't there.

30+ years living with Crohn's.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 1195
   Posted 9/23/2007 8:32 PM (GMT -7)   
I have been told.. a diseased gut ( crohns) can "act" like IBS at times but in reality is the crohns disease affecting what is going on. It is very important ot have biopsies done with all scopes cause disease can and will be microscopic. When I get more IBS like symptoms.. my Gi says I have "smoldering" crohns.... My blood work is usually OK.. ALL my biopsies come back postive for CD. Either way... CD/IBS., it affects ones life!!!! Both are not easy! Prof

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 4527
   Posted 9/24/2007 4:31 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi I would recommend that your friend read up on it there is a clear difference I had IBS for 27 years but was DX with CD in JAN. how long the CD was there I don't know but your friend should have test regularly to make sure it is not CD. IBS is in the nerve endings or so they think. CD is a disease that causes damage to the intestine or from mouth to anus .One thing that I learned that help reduce pain from IBS was to go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the need not to try and hold it or put it off till later. This also helps with CD.Hope this helps. lol gail

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 2082
   Posted 9/24/2007 12:07 PM (GMT -7)   
Unless the definition has changed, IBS is a disorder, not a disease. It seems to be mechanical whereas Crohn's and UC involve inflammation etc. Crohn's can affect any part of the GI tract, and involves extraintestinal immune reactions such as arthritis. I think Belleenstein covered about all that.

Crohn's usually causes spasming and diarrhea, so I think that's why it's confusing and some Crohn's patients are considered to have IBS on top of the disease. IBS won't cause inflammation, bleeding, infection, fistulas, etc. I was one of those who was told I had IBS when all along it was CD, even though I had symptoms that didn't fit IBS. IBS won't cause life-threatening illness; it just feels like it does sometimes.

I usually tell those who want more information to check out to find out about CD. I'm glad you have a friend who wants to know.
48 yr. old. Ileocolitis.  CD since early teens, misdx'd until age 36.  Hemicolectomy-left side in 2001.  Disease returned in 2003. Arthritis, episcleritis, chronic pain due to surgeries (nerve damage, adhesions) and disease.  Recently dx'd scoliosis.  History of endometriosis.

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