IBS: Cramping in the lower abdomeniStock/gpointstudio
If ongoing stomach pain is also accompanied by bloating, gassiness, and a change in bowel habits— either constipation or diarrhea—it could be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). “IBS is probably one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders that a gastroenterologist sees,” says Lawrence J. Brandt, MD, emeritus chief in the division of gastroenterology at Montefiore Health System. IBS affects about 10 to 20 percent of the U.S. population (mostly women). Though the cause is unknown, some studies suggest that people with IBS (sometimes called “spastic colon”) have an overly sensitive colon or large intestine. IBS shouldn’t cause weight loss or rectal bleeding, says Dr. Brandt. If that happens, something else is going on. These are the secrets your stomach is trying to tell you.
IBD: Abdominal pain and cramping, along with rectal bleedingiStock/champja
These stomach pain symptoms often indicate inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), an umbrella term for conditions that involve chronic swelling in the digestive tract, namely Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions have similar symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose which form of IBD a patient is suffering from, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Not to be confused with IBS, IBD is more serious and more rare. While one in five people have IBS, only about one in 200 Americans has IBD, Faten N. Aberra, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, told EverydayHealth.com.