5 Signs That IBS Could be IBD

I am not writing this to frighten anyone. Just to be clear, if you have been diagnosed with IBS, it does not mean you will later get an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. However, because I have been diagnosed with both IBS and Crohn’s, I would like to make those with IBS aware of symptoms that are indicative of IBD.

Too often, I have met people on social media who have said their general practitioner or gastroenterologist misdiagnosed them with IBS when really it was something more the entire time. This makes me incredibly sad, so I’d like to equip others with information from my personal experience so that you can empower yourself to either ask for more tests or get a second opinion.

In my journey towards a Crohn’s diagnosis, I will say that the beginning symptoms were very much in line with IBS. I had lots of diarrhea, cramping, fatigue, nausea, anemia, and just overall major issues with urgency. I was constantly pooping. I dealt with IBS symptoms for about a month or so in my personal story, and it quickly turned into more. These are the symptoms to focus on that are indicative of IBD:

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1. Blood in stool

IBS does not cause physical damage to the intestines; it is a functional syndrome, hence the name:  irritable bowel syndrome. On the flip side, inflammatory bowel disease causes major physical damage to the digestive system bringing blood into the picture.

If you have dark black stool that looks like coffee grounds, that means you are bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract. If you have fresh blood or bright red blood, it means the blood is coming from somewhere towards the end of the colon or rectum. It is also possible to bleed bright red blood if you have external or internal hemorrhoids, which come directly from straining and doesn’t mean you have IBD.

Overall, if you see any signs of blood, it is imperative to let your doctor know. You need to be checked and rule out IBD.

2. Excess mucous in stool

Mucous means inflammation. If you constantly are having bowel movements with mucous, this is indicative of IBD. Be adamant to your doctor for testing, and don’t let up until you get answers.

3. Fever with flare-ups

Fever comes with IBD flare-ups due to the major inflammation happening in the digestive tract. Again, fever can also come from a million other things, but if you see a fever pattern with flares, please let your doctor know and ask to do tests for IBD.

4. Mouth sores

Unfortunately, IBD affects different areas of the body other than just the digestive system.  Mouth sores are a common symptom. If you get sores on your gums or tongue, this could be a sign that not only are you flaring, but it could be an IBD flare.

5. Irregular periods

IBD affects your periods. Let your doctor know if your period stops altogether or becomes increasingly worse with increased menstrual cramping and bleeding. I went about 6 months straight without a period due to being in a bad IBD flare, and this I learned is very common.

For symptoms 6-10, stay tuned for part 2 of this article.

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