Bowel Problems During Remission Not Likely IBS
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) patients in remission who blame their recurring symptoms on another GI disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) might need a second look. IBS can have similar symptoms to IBD but it does not cause the inflammation and damage that IBD does. A research study conducted on IBD patients who were thought to be in remission, though experiencing some GI discomfort, seems to indicate IBS may not be the culprit.
The IBD patients included those with Crohn's and UC and were all thought to be in remission from active disease. A portion of the group was experiencing what they thought to be IBS symptoms while the other part of the group had no active symptoms. Researchers used measurements of fecal calprotectin, a marker for inflammation in the colon, to get a better idea of what was actually going on with both groups.
What the researchers found was very interesting. Both UC and Crohn's patients that were exhibiting IBS symptoms had significantly higher levels of the inflammation marker calprotectin then did the groups without symptoms. Those results seem to indicate that it may not be IBS at all but low levels of inflammation due to IBD causing the symptoms during remission.
The calprotectin levels might be helpful in indicating when a patient is nearing the onset of a flare up or to determine sub clinical disease activity. While the researchers admitted that there may be patients who have both IBS and IBD this study noted that it is always best to assume it is IBD until proven otherwise. (1).